Skip to main content

Your Impact Will Go Twice as Far for a Pup

Do you notice all those folds of skin? They tell a heartbreaking story of a pup far too thin. 

Right now, there’s a $5,000 gift match waiting for the pups, and your support is needed to unlock it. 

Yes, your $5 = $10 today, meaning you can provide double the fish meals for a pup like Horseshoe. 

Get your gift matched
elephant seal pup Horseshoe
a golden retriever lying on a sandy beach with a leash and harness
News Update

How to Keep Your Dog Safe on Beaches

September 29, 2023
  • Behavior
  • Leptospirosis

Many of the Center’s seal and sea lion pup rescues result from interaction with people or dogs on beaches. 

In 2022, our experts received reports of, or observed, more than 25 percent of our seal, sea lion and sea otter patients experiencing negative interactions with humans and/or dogs along our 600-mile California response range. 

People or dogs on the beach approaching a marine mammal can disrupt their nursing or resting habits. In the case of a mom and pup, the mother seal can become scared and permanently abandon her pup on the beach.

But those negative interactions can also include risks for you and your dog. Marine mammals are wild animals and can act unpredictably if they are sick or scared. That's why a safe viewing experience starts with keeping your distance and keeping pets on a leash.

By providing adequate space, and following a few key steps, you can ensure that seals, sea lions and other marine mammals — as well as your own pets — stay safe and healthy on the beach. Download our tips to reference later.

give them space graphic with advice to stay back 150 feet, leash your dog and call the experts

Risks to You and Your Dog

Wild Animals Can Bite

Seals and sea lions have sharp teeth and powerful jaws, and may act to defend themselves if provoked.

Infectious Diseases

Wild animals can carry diseases like leptospirosis and avian flu that could be transmitted to you and your pets, which could be potentially fatal.

Icon of a simplified virus or other disease

Legal Trouble

The Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits harassing seals and sea lions under federal law.

Risks to Marine Mammals

Pups in Danger

Seal moms can be separated from their pups when people or dogs approach, often before the pup can find food for itself in the wild. These pups are at high risk of starvation.

Keep Wildlife Wild

By giving marine mammals space you are helping them thrive in the wild. You’ll also get your best chance to see some incredible natural behaviors!

Icon of binoculars

Protect Animals like Juicebox

Northern fur seal Juicebox was just a pup when he was rescued after being bit by an off-leash dog and placed back in the ocean by a beachgoer. As a species that lives in the open ocean, northern fur seals rarely come to shore except for when they are sick or injured. At our hospital, Juicebox was diagnosed with several maladies including malnutrition and pneumonia. It took more than two months to nurse Juicebox back to health, but we’re happy to share that he was released back to his ocean home.

northern fur seal Juicebox

How You Can Protect Your Dog

Leashes on Beaches

Leashing your dog on beaches is the best way to avoid interactions with wild marine mammals. You can help save a life!

Keep Your Distance

Keep at least 50 yards (150 feet) away from marine mammals in the wild. Use a zoom lens or binoculars to observe their natural behaviors.

Icon depicting 50 yards of space

Get Your Dog Vaccinated

Consider the leptospirosis vaccine for your dog to decrease the risk of disease spread from living or dead animals. Talk with your veterinarian to learn more.

Call the Experts

If you see a seal or sea lion in distress along the California coastline, call our hotline at 415-289-SEAL (7325).

Icon of a smart phone

Your Call Makes a Difference

When marine mammals are sick, they're telling us that the ocean is sick, too. The Marine Mammal Center rescues and cares for these animals, and investigates the threats they face in the wild.

The Marine Mammal Center's rescue hotline is available 24 hours a day, and our trained teams respond to marine mammals in need seven days a week, 365 days a year. Our life-saving rescues are made possible with the support of people like you.

Yes! I want to help

Two volunteers from The Marine Mammal Center assess a sea lion on the beach
photo © Rob Martel Photography

You Can Be an Advocate for Stranded Marine Mammals

You can help spread the word about the importance of remembering to #LeaveSealsBe on social media and in your community. Download and print a rescue card to keep with you or share with others.

Our Rescue and Response Volunteers are responsible for rescuing and transporting marine mammals along 600 miles of the northern California coast. You can join our volunteer community and help make second chances possible.


Yes, I want to save a life!

Yes, I want to save a life!

You’ll be giving sick and injured animals the best possible care at the Center’s state-of-the-art hospital. With your gift today, you are giving a patient a second chance at life in the wild.

  • $35 You'll buy food for a hungry animal
  • $45 You'll provide life-saving medical care
  • $65 You'll make second chances possible

See Our Latest News

Northern Fur Seal