Local Heroes
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Florence Sarrett, San Francisco, CA

Florence was an expert on dog training who passed on these important skills to thousands of dogs and their owners – many who became life-long friends – through her work with the San Francisco Dog Training Club. She was also a tireless advocate for responsible off-leash recreation with well-trained dogs.

In 1976, she co-founded the San Francisco Dog Owners Group (SFDOG) with the goal of expanding off-leash opportunities in the newly formed Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). In response to the closing of Ocean Beach to off-leash recreation in the late 1990s, SFDOG reorganized with a focus on responsible dog ownership and off-leash recreation throughout the area.

Florence was always in the thick of things. She was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the GGNRA for its illegal closure of part of Fort Funston (the dog community won). She also served on the Off-Leash Task Force and the Animal Control and Welfare Commission in San Francisco, and she attended nearly every meeting of the Commission and other public meetings involving dogs in the city.

Florence approached off-leash advocacy as she approached her dog training – calmly and rationally, but with the touch of wit.

At one public meeting, a woman who didn’t agree with Florence called her a “bitch.” In classic form, Florence responded by saying that in all of her years of dog training she’d often been referred to as a “dog lady,” but this was the first time she’d been called a “lady dog.”

Florence died recently at the age of 95 and will be sorely missed by everyone who knew and worked with her.