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Poll: No consensus on dog-friendly beach

By Lisa Neff, Islander Reporter

J.D. and Big, canine companions from Holmes Beach, enjoy time on the beach — certain hours in summer season and anytime the rest of the year — on the shore in Virgina Beach. Islander Photo: Socko Pearson

There’s no formal proposal to establish a dog-friendly beach on Anna Maria Island, but Islanders are barking about the concept.

An informal Islander survey, conducted on Facebook and randomly at local events in recent weeks, found a lack of a majority consensus — about a third are enthusiastic about strolling the beach with their pup, about a third are opposed to sharing the beach with a mutt and about a third lack a definite opinion.

“We need a dog beach closer to our area,” said Connie Schuessler Alkire, posting a vote in the “yes” column. “I’m tired of driving 30 minutes north or south to get to one.”

In the “no” column, Sheila Ann Kellogg said, “I like dogs, but people do not clean up after their animals.”

Meanwhile, undecided voter Ricky Lannon said, “I’d have to know about any environmental consequences first.”

There was a super-majority opinion, however. Most people surveyed were surprised to learn that there are no state or federal prohibitions against dogs on Anna Maria Island beaches. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, for example, is not involved with permitting dogs on beaches other than at state parks.

The prohibitions — or allowances — are established at the local level in municipal ordinances. Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach all have ordinances prohibiting dogs on the beach, while dogs are allowed on the Palma Sola Causeway beach, which is regulated by Bradenton.

Longboat Key also has an ordinance prohibiting dogs on the beach, but town officials are awaiting findings from a citizens advisory committee on the matter.

The Longboat Key committee is being chaired by an advocate for a dog-friendly beach as well as a representative from the town turtle-watch program, who has raised concerns.

On Anna Maria Island, turtle watch volunteers also have concerns, but executive director Suzi Fox said she’s not opposed to a dog-friendly beach.

“The main thing that I have is a concern about the birds,” Fox said, referring to resting, roosting and nesting shorebirds and migratory birds on the shore. “I’m not so worried about the turtle nests as the birds that need to rest and roost.”

Fox said in two decades she hasn’t documented a dog disturbing a turtle nest on the Island. However, she has seen dogs flush birds from the beach, activity that the National Audubon Society says can destroy a nesting colony.

An option would be to study a location not popular with birds, perhaps on the bayside, Fox said.

Several Bradenton Beach dog owners have suggested using the area near the boat ramp at Coquina Bayside, which is managed by Manatee County and policed by the Bradenton Beach Police Department.

“I think if there’s a place where people aren’t sunbathing and birds aren’t foraging, I’d go for it,” said Bradenton Beach resident Dave Elliott, who for now remains in the “undecided” column.

23 Responses to Poll: No consensus on dog-friendly beach

  1. Denise Fletcher says:

    I as a dog owner would love to be able to take long walks on the beaches on AMI. I do understand the concern about the birds, but who is going to stop the children from chasing birds?! In fact I’ve seen parents laughing and smiling as their children do this! Who is going to stop them going onto the beaches because they disturb birds and therefore cause distress to wildlife?! It is a very small minority of people who don’t pick up their dogs faeces, so please don’t make the majority pay for it! I think they must allocate regular green spaces for dog walkers if they wont allow them onto beaches.

    • Mermaiden says:

      The first comment states it’s a “small minority” of dog owners who don’t pick up the feces. What exactly did you base this on since the info. does not exist for the beach??? I will provide a concrete example: Robinson Preserve is almost my backyard. The first year after it opened, it was a DOG POOP FREE ZONE. As time progressed, even though bags were right there for the taking, things began to stink up. Now, it’s routine to have to look down as you walk. Don’t want to step in the smashed dog SHI*. You get it on your bike tires, your sneakers, your roller blades, etc……but hey, it’s not the dog’s fault.

    • su lee says:

      If every person who witnessed a child flushing the birds off the beach would take the time to politely educate that child and their guardians, about that species of bird’s plight in their long distance migrations, and how chasing them disrupts breeding and feeding that can doom that bird and their species to extinction, the logical result would be a more educated population that protects wildlife. Since you already know this, your argument is null and void and you are exposed as a selfish being thinking only of your own desires and wants instead of finding logical solutions that will keep our planet green and full of wildlife.Green spaces become brown and fouled when dogs are allowed, because their owners are selfish! And you as a dog owner are unwilling to police these dog allowed areas, picking up after the other dogs who’s owners are irresponsible!

  2. connie hall says:

    I agree we need a dog friendly stretch of beach, please

  3. Duke Miller says:

    If you want a real poll of merit on the subject of dogs on the beach, just inquire of the numerous species that nest and breed in peace on our pet-free beaches and dunes. I’ll wager the outcome would be unanimous!

  4. Susan Nicholas says:

    When lived on LBK back in the sixties my dog Tawny used to go to the beach all the time. Worst that ever happened was he got a fish hook in his lip because he was eating fish people caught and left on the beach. As long as people clean up after their dogs I don’t see a problem with it. I’m sure at night while people are sleeping and dogs prowl that some of them go out to the beach.

    • Mermaiden says:

      In theory this is a great philosophy. In practice, people are pigs, and throw styrafoam cups along the shore, in supermarkets parking lots, and ignore the trash barrels posted at each street with a beach entry. Time to get real. Picture a lovely pit bull, a drooling Doberman, a howling Rotweiler, squatting and taking a big ‘ol dump right next to your staked out beach area……..you’re in the water and don’t even see them. Upon settling into your chair, book in hand, you stick your foot in a hot, oozy, gooey, mass of SHI*.

  5. Dana says:

    To the undecided:
    Dogs are allowed to walk with owners on Holmes Blvd. Take a walk on that street with a bag and collect all the dog waste that goes without being picked up by owners. At the end of your walk, decide if thats what you want on the beach.

  6. Holly says:

    Sorry. I am a dog owner and I will not bring my dog to the beach. I have seen to many people not clean up after their dogs! The idea that I may be lying on the beach in some dogs urine is just yuck! And I agree with Susan that dogs would only disturb the wildlife that is supposed to be there.

  7. Julie West says:

    I think having a “dog beach” is a wonderful thing and is long overdue. The majority of dog owners are considerate and responsible. They will pick up after their dog. Since Manatee County and the island cities have a leash law, there should be minimal disturbance to the birds and other wildlife. Regarding dog pee, yes, dogs do it. So do birds,turtles, amd other critters, although the consistancy is somewhat different. Ever see a pelican let loose? Big and wet! It chances are pretty good that they hit the beach as they fly over. Should there be an attempt to ban pelicans, too?

    • su lee says:

      Dog urine contains antibiotics, pesticides and all the ingredients found in its non-organic food and innoculations. We don’t need that added to the beach sand that we walk barefoot on.

    • Marsha Bard says:

      True, the cities do have leash laws, but ‘having’ and ‘enforcing’ are two different things. Just take a ride around the island and count the loose animals roaming around. As to the ‘majority’ of people being responsible – I would imagine the island natives would be, but we are an island of tourists now – and they have no investment in our beaches and just seem to use them and trash them as they may. I don’t see them cleaning up after their pets – they don’t even obey the rule of ‘no dogs on the beach’ for heaven sakes

  8. Larry Burns says:

    We should also ban gulls from the beach. They crap all over the place!

  9. Marlane Wurzbach says:

    We already have a beach where dogs are allowed! — the causeway beach along Manatee Avenue. I suggested that elsewhere and a dog owner was quick to reply she wouldn’t bring her dog there because it’s too dirty. Bingo! If even 10 percent of people don’t pick up after their dogs, that’s too much for the beaches we advertise for being white and pristine. Tourists come for a short time and do not take the time or an interest in our rules. The garbage left for days at the curb of the island rentals proves that. Oh, and if you think most people pick up after their dogs, come take a walk down Key Royale and check out the medians — nicely landscaped gardens that too many use for puppy potties.

  10. AMI says:

    Just watch the news and you’ll see stories of children attacked by pit bulls. Do you want that on the beaches? Children running around alongside excitable dogs with vice-like jaws? And people always have to go one step further. Allow dogs on leashes on the beaches, and there will always be someone who thinks their dog doesn’t need to be on a leash. I’ve seen it on other beaches. My fingers are crossed that we don’t allow dogs on our beaches.

    • Jd says:

      Honestly, to follow up on the comment about puts attacking children. Wow. I bet if Caesar Milans pit was around your child they would be fine. Your obviously a biased person and deaf dumb and blind. You probably believe in the tooth fairy. It’s the owners not the dogs. It it wasn’t for pits you would have the black plague. Someone should ban you from beaches. I bet if u beat your children everyday they would grow up to be violent psychopaths. Why don’t we ban them too?

      • Carey says:

        Pit bulls are wonderful pets by the way. Just simple ignorance when people say this about pit bulls. On the subject of dogs on the beach.
        Why not a middle ground. Dogs on leashes. Dogs walk on leashes all over the island now and I don’t have to watch to make sure I don’t step in dog poo. What is the difference. Walk you dog with a baggie just like anywhere else. A few will be disrespectful but not many. We often
        go to clearwater because you can walk your dog on the beach and there is absolutely no problem at all.

  11. David Macrae says:

    I live on Casey Key which is dog friendly with leashed dogs required. There are no problems other then transient travelers who do not seem to pick up their dog waste. The locals do and are very good about it. How about apermit whose proceeds go to the SPCA to license beach use and insure tag owners know the rules. It is too bad dogs pay for human ignorance with simple pick up rules. As to the Turtles and Birds we have one of the best turtle beaches and the dogs dont go neear the nests. Leases also keep them from the Birds. Make it simple with Leash rules and pick up rules and everyone wins. The SPCA could use the funds as well.

  12. greta says:

    I live in CA and dogs are allowed on our beaches and most are off leash. I have never seen issues with poop or birds. In dog parks there is a culture of telling people to pick up poop if they do not see it. It is team work and no one gets angry. Poop is missed when people are hanging out chatting sometimes, but that is it. If you have a sign that tells people to remind others, pick up poop, leash pets if humping, and wildlife disturbance and continuous barking not tolerated expect no problem. The last key though is to have a strong local dog park association that volunteers monthy clean ups and fields complaints and educates visitors. I live where it is much more touristy and have educated people who have never been to a dog park. And everyone has been excited to learn how it is done. No worries. I would just pick a smaller beach with clear boundaries, to protect people not interested in pets visiting their blanket. I hope one in Anna Maria happens soon! I would suggest one of the bounded gulf side beach near the point where there is low traffic outside of fishermen.

    • Valerie says:

      I know that everyone loves their dogs. I love dogs too! I am a pet sitter that picks up and spends the night with your animal. I do not want to stay on a beach with dogs. I am on vacation. I have been a pet sitter for going on 4 years. and have watched every kind of dog and birds and cats. Most of the neighborhoods I pet sit in are very nice. Like Bloomfield Hills Michigan very high end. From California to Michigan owners do not pick up. More owners don’t than do. There is no way to police dog poop. If you have 200 people with dogs on the beach that is 200 piles of poop. Even if 5% don’t pick up that is allot. On Longboat in the morning I walk and take a bag. I pick up dirty diapers, cigarette butts, beer cans, you name it and this is just from Floridians after a weekend. You can only imagine letting dogs into the mix. You mentioned rules well the rule on longboat is NO Dog and people still try to bring their dogs. If they can’t follow that rule why would they follow the leasch or pick up rule?

  13. Deb says:

    Would love to be able to take my 16 yrs.old dog to the beach for a swim. I believe it would be fabulous low impact excersize for him. It would keep him cool at the same time.
    It just makes me very sad that no such place exists. Man’s best friend gets the short end of the stick on this.

  14. Maureen Dahms says:

    There has always been a need for a place for our dogs along the beach in Anna Maria, to run, play, cool off and simply be dogs. We dog lovers have know that for a very long time. Coming from California (where we have very clean beaches) we always had a beach walk for our dogs, someplace. When I came here, I was stunned at the anti-dog mentality on this island. I too will not walk my dogs at the causeway, simply because there are too may cars zipping around. Their safety is my big concern.
    Why do all the people who are against sharing the beach with dogs care if we dog folks are given our own private ‘stretch’. They can have their beach and we can have ours. Easy, problem solved. I know, it’s the old dirty feces thing, but that is a straw man. Sometimes the hypocrisy is stunning.

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