Most people know the law requires pets to be on a leash less than 8 feet long. But do you know how this law helps protect you, the habitat, and the landscape at Mission Trails Regional Park? Read on to test your pet and environmental knowledge and discover how you can help keep the park healthy for future visits. (1) Keeping your dog leashed helps ensure the security and survival of all species in the park. Sensitive habitats for the least Bell's vireo and California gnatcatcher are found throughout Mission Trails Regional Park. Dogs running loose off the trail disturbs the low, brushy areas these birds nest in. It is important to remember that the scent of your dog remains long after your visit and signals the presence of a threat to local wildlife. This is especially true of the irregular travel pattern of dogs off the leash and why it is important to clean up after your dog. (2) Dogs on leashes are less likely to run into hazards like rattlesnakes, ticks and skunks. You and your dog are most likely to find ticks, skunks and rattlesnakes off a cleared, designated trail. Keeping your dog on a leash is safer for both of you. (3) One of the best ways to protect yourself from a bad case of poison oak is to keep your dog on a leash. Poison oak is common at Mission Trails. When your unleashed dog runs through it he is covered in the plant oils which cause the itchy rash. Your dog is protected by his thick fur coat, but can spread the oils to you, your car seats, furniture, carpets and whatever else he comes in contact with. These oils can stay potent for up to one year. (4) Keeping your dog on a leash saves money. Mountain bikers, equestrians and hikers all enjoy visiting Mission Trails Regional Park. Keeping your dog leashed and under control prevents costly accidents and injuries. It is also required by the City of San Diego that pets be on a leash. An unleashed dog can cost you up to $250! (5) There are designated areas in San Diego where you can let your dog off a leash. While leashes are required for dogs visiting Mission Trails Regional Park, there are several parks in San Diego where dogs can play off their leashes. These include Dog Beach in northern Ocean Beach, Fiesta Island in Mission Bay, and the following locations in Balboa Park - Balboa Drive at El Prado west of Cabrillo Bridge, Morley Field northwest of the tennis courts, Grape Street Park near Granada Avenue. ----- Remember, dogs must be fastened to a suitable leash under 8 feet long as required by San Diego Municipal Code 63.0102(b)(2). Violators are subject to a fine up to $250. For more information about the habitats of Mission Trails go to Grasslands, Chaparral, Sage Scrub, Riparian, Oak Woodlands, Aquatic.