Could Your Parks & Rec Department Be Giving Your Dog Cancer?

If you live in an urban area, you probably take your dog for walks in a public place. Public parks, nature trails and designated dog parks are great options for pet parents looking for somewhere safe to exercise with their dog. Have you ever wondered what kinds of chemicals are used when landscaping these types of public places? Maybe you should start thinking about it.

Dog owners in San Francisco have begun gathering in opposition of the latest threat to their canine companions – the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. The opposition comes on the heels of information being released that shows that the city uses an herbicide labeled as carcinogenic by the state of California to control a list of invasive species in parks throughout San Francisco.

Could Your Parks and Rec Department Be Giving Your Dog Cancer?

Those who spend time in the parks are concerned about the effects the herbicide will have on dogs as well as people, especially children. Glyphosate, the herbicide in question, is commercially distributed as Monsanto’s Roundup, and in March of this year it was labeled as “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organization.

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In response to the use of the herbicide, one concerned park goer has launched a petition on hoping to convince lawmakers to “ban dangerous pesticide use at schools and public parks.” The petition tells the story of how a parent found out that the chemical was going to be sprayed at a park near her child’s nursery school. After seeing signs posted warning parents about glyphosate, that same parent discovered this:

“A few of my local neighbors have mentioned to me that their dogs who once played freely in this particular park came down with unusual mouth and nose cancers, and now they believe this San Francisco government practice of spraying Roundup in this park is the reason for this.”

According to, a design and technology blog, it’s not just one park user that has concerns. The website documents the case of two other pet parents who believe that the herbicide is responsible for their dog’s strange cancer development as well. Caroline Plakias, a San Francisco resident, had this to say about her dog that came down with cancer:

“…she got cancer when she was two years old and her vet said it was really unusual to see a mast cell tumor in such a young dog and also in her breed (border collie mix). I’ve met several dog owners in Glen Canyon Park who said their pups have had weird cancers of the nose and mouth.”

Could Your Parks and Rec Department Be Giving Your Dog Cancer?

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The petition already has over 600 signatures from local residents who are concerned for their safety and the safety of their pets. The San Francisco Parks and Rec Department has yet to comment on the issue as of the publication of this article. Warning signs or not, it seems to me that chemicals like this should be banned from being used in public areas.

It’s also surprising to me that this is the first issue that San Francisco Parks and Rec has had. If multiple dog owners have suspected the chemical was causing cancer in canines, why wasn’t something said before now? Granted, there is no proof that this herbicide has caused cancer in any dog, but if it were me, I would certainly be looking for a way to link the two together. This also makes me worry about what other cities and towns are spraying on the weeds in their public parks. It’s definitely something that more pet parents (and human parents) should be aware of, especially if your dog is fond of eating grass.