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2011 Year in Review: Do dogs belong on Longboat beaches?

Another contentious issue on Longboat this year has been the idea of allowing dogs on the beach. The town has an ordinance in place that prohibits dogs on the beach with or without a leash.

Some residents are supportive of the idea of dogs on the beach, stating the potential benefits of vacationers who may choose to visit based on the ability to bring their pets. Others are opposed to the idea, citing waste material and disease as well as threats to endangered sea turtle eggs and the dog bite liability.

The Town Commission, after hearing from residents on the pros and cons of allowing dogs access to Longboat Key beaches, decided last fall to form an ad hoc committee where both sides can form an approach that takes in the many property and health concerns of those opposed and the desires of those in favor who want their pets to enjoy the shoreline.

Resident Laurin Goldner heads up the dog beach committee and has said that 28 states have dog beaches with “regulations from the benign to the ridiculous.” She said the biggest concern in her mind is wildlife protection and the possible contamination of the beach and waterways. Goldner maintains that real estate agents and resorts agree that having a dog-friendly town is a good thing.

An example of an opponent of the dog beach is resident Dr. Sanford Mackman. The issue for Mackman was not one of whether everyone likes dogs, it is simply an issue of health. He recounted how his wife picked up hookworm after walking on a dog beach in Maui, Hawaii. He suggested the town find a section of beach or an area that is not used by humans.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commissioner has advised that the presence of dogs on the beach is far more detrimental to birds than humans.

Mote Biologist Sarah Kirsh said Mote was not at the hearing this fall to advocate for either side but to offer data and information. She said that in 2010 there were an average of 14.1 turtle nests per kilometer of beach. She said that dogs are known predators of sea turtle nests, but in the last two years there have been no known cases of dogs destroying turtle nests.

Commissioner Pat Zunz said she was not in favor of opening the whole beach to dogs but a portion. Mayor Jim Brown said that if the dog beach is placed in one location, the problem is concentrated. He suggested looking at allowing the whole beach using limited hours or days of access.

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Longboat Key News

3 Responses for “2011 Year in Review: Do dogs belong on Longboat beaches?”

  1. Karen Muehlenbein says:

    To my commet listed above where I stayed possibly allowing pets to be on the beach certain months throughout the year, during slow times people may visit the beach. Reference to Hilton head island SC.

  2. Karen Muehlenbein says:

    I think dogs should be allowed to be with there owners on the beach, on a leach at all times, not allowed in the water, and owners should pick up the waste after there pet. I would also be happy to see or take into conceration that possibly allowing pets certain months out of the year. This is done and observed in Hilton Head beach,SC. I am a new property owner on Longboat key.

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