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Date of Issue: April 02, 2008

City wants paws allowed on path

A bicyclist pedals south on the paved path at Coquina Beach. The Bradenton Beach City Commission would like the county to allow dogs on the path.

Stephen Johnson and his lab Tosh are hot to trot together on the trail at Coquina Beach.

But for now they’ll settle for a jog along Gulf Drive.

That’s because canines cannot pound the pavement of the multi-use Coquina path, nor are they allowed on Island beaches.

But if Bradenton Beach city commissioners get their way, the ban on dogs from the Coquina Beach trail may be lifted.

The city commission voted in late March to draft a letter to the Manatee County Board of Commissioners asking the county to ease the restriction for the trail.

Bradenton Beach Mayor Michael Pierce was the lone dissent, saying that while he loves dogs, he’s concerned about dog droppings, as well as the potential for skirmishes between pets and people.

Other opinions regarding people sharing the path with canines were mixed last week on the trail, as varied as audience favorites in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

More than 90 people have signed citizen petitions supporting allowing dogs on the trail.

Johnson said he supported such an allowance.

As did Mitchell Johansen and Annette Guiliani, who walked together on the path on a recent chilly Tuesday morning.

“As long as people follow rules about cleaning up, I think it’s fine,” said Guiliani. “I love dogs. I have three at home.”

Johansen wondered if certain hours could be designated as dog-walking hours on the path.

“How it would be enforced, I don’t know,” he said. “But it works for parking.”

But inline-skater Darcy Martens objected to a shared path. “I wouldn’t come out here if there were dogs,” she said, while catching her breath on the path. “I don’t think it’s the right place. Let’s make a dog park or a dog run if that’s what the people want.”

Bicyclist Jeanne Ruthhart added, “In the vicinity is all right, but already this path isn’t big enough for walkers and bikers.”