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Anti-Poop Crusader: Dogs on Beach Not in Style

Do you think the problem of owner's not picking up after their dogs needs to be addressed again?

Owners not cleaning up after their dogs on village beaches is one of those ongoing topics in East Hampton.

And, the village board is going to take it on, again, at its next work session on Feb. 7.

Matt Norklun — who, in recent years, has earned a bit of reputation, leading the charge against "dog poop" — lodged a complaint at the village board meeting on Friday.

"I stopped in disgust after picking up 15 bags of dog poop on the beach at Georgica. It was more than that, but I stopped counting," he told the board.

Each day last week that he went to surf off the village beach, he'd pick up more. "I don't go to the beach looking for dog poop, but everybody does, because if you don't look for it, you're going to step in it," he said. The difference, he said, is he picks it up if he sees it.

In East Hampton Village, dogs are allowed on the beaches this time of year, but they are not permitted on the beach between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from the second Sunday in May through Sept. 30. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets, and risk a $250 fine if they fail to do so. Plastic bags for clean-up are provided at the entrances.

Norklun was once fined for littering after he brought a collection he picked up at the beach and left it on the steps of Village Hall.

He blames the increase in dog droppings to more people bringing their dogs to the beach.

"It's now fashionable to walk your dog on the beach. People saw a Viagra commercial, a Cialis commercial, and they say, 'I want to be that lifestyle. It's a mindset," he said, to which he got some chuckles from the audience. "I know there's a difficulty in enforcing the law, but we have to change the mindset," he said.

"Flowery language" on a sign at the entrance that asks dog owners to pick up after their dogs "is interpreted as invitation to walk your dog on the beach." He would prefer a sign that says: "Please do not walk your dog on the beach."

"It won't take an act of Congress," he said. "It just expresses, 'We'd rather you didn't use the beaches as a toilet.'"

Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. told him that they planned to discuss the issue next month. Just a few years ago, the village floated an idea to cut back the hours dogs were allowed on the beach in the summer, but drew strong criticism from the dog-friendly community.

"If there's a reason to have dog poop on the beach, I'd like to hear it," he added. "What's going to happen in the summer if it's this bad now?"

So how do you feel about the situation? Do you notice a lot of dog feces on the beaches? Do you want to see dogs banned from beaches? Tell us in the comments below.

Freddie January 23, 2013 at 01:16 PM
Please add and locate all your local dog waste receptacles through the free iPhone app doggydoodar where you can earn prizes. Also locate your dog friendly service providers and follow us on twitter.
Sally January 23, 2013 at 01:18 PM
More than once a day trash pickup during high season would help as the garbage cans are overflowing (not just village but town beaches as well), more social pressure (in a civilized, not threatening, manner), and a way for civilians to report dog owners so they get fined, would all go a long way toward rectifying this problem. We don't want to outlaw enjoyable behavior (dogs on beaches) because of a few bad seeds.
SuzyScuba January 23, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Taking our dog to the beaches is a fun family outing and our certified pet therapy dog "works" hard and enjoys the freedom to run and romp. We enjoy her company and fun we have with her. We bring the plastic bags provided with us to clean up after her. We are responsible and considerate. If people don't clean up after their dog and are discovered not to, they should pay the fine as determined by the village. Do not penalize those of us who are responsible. I am sorry Mr. Norklun encounters this problem...it is disgraceful people are not more considerate and take pride in their beautiful environment. *Personally, we have never seen any dog excrement on the beaches.
Patti Ferrin January 23, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Many dog owners obey the laws and respect other peoples rights to a clean and wholesome beach environment. However many do not. In particular they do not pick up if there is no one around. In addition there are many who will pickup and then leave the bag on the beach. What is the logic of that. A final complaint is the unleashed dog that "playfully" heads your way at a fast gallop, jumps up on you, as the owner yells "don't worry he won't hurt you!". Both these problems invariably reduce ones enjoyment of a quiet, serene walk on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Sally's solution above is no solution. Nor is having to hire a police presence. I am concerned with the enjoyment of the beach by all of us not only a dogs. The only practical solution is banning the dogs. There will always be dog owners who will not pick up or leash their dogs!
Daniel January 23, 2013 at 02:35 PM
....... so a garbage can is over flowing, and someone tried to do the right thing but the VILLAGE doesn't empty the can regularly??? and this is the dog owners fault????
Daniel January 23, 2013 at 02:41 PM
there will also be people who leave garbage and dirty diapers on the beach.. so by your logic.. how about we ban people and only let dogs go on the beach??
A January 23, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Really taking time to worry about dog S**t.
Dana Kalbacher January 23, 2013 at 03:41 PM
The Village and the Town have each tried the solar powered garbage cans..one was outside of Scoop du Jour in the summer...They compact the garbage and are quite efficient. They should be installed at the beaches and on Amagansett Main St..They send a notification to the sanitation dept when they are "full" and hold quite a bit of garbage. Perhaps that would help with the overflowing garbage cans. They probably will hold a good deal of those poop bags..so get cleaning dog owners, its a priveledge to walk on our beaches. Bring it in,you bring it out. And lets get a few more of those great garbage cans!
John January 23, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Agreed - He's not "a full Shilling."
Carolyn Bistrian January 23, 2013 at 03:56 PM
clean up after your dogs, folks. Everyone else, take a chill pill. We live in and with nature. This is a place where people can enjoy nature. Poop is part of it -- you want an antiseptic place to live ? Go get an apartment in the city and keep your complaints and threats of poising the lovely creatures who grace our lives to yourself.
Ann R. January 23, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Sorry, but the time as come for some challenge to dog owners who do not pick up.
Moni January 23, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Dogs are carnivores; deer are not. Dog feces is a health hazzard and it stinks. I agree that dogs should be able to cavort on the beach off season -- but PLEASE, OWNERS, PICK UP THE CRAP AS BEST YOU CAN, FOR ALL OUR SAKES!
Jan Lehre January 23, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Is this REALLY a problem? Maybe I don't look down enough, but his 'feces-covered beaches' thing sounds like some alternative universe. EHV bans dogs from more places than any municipality I've visited. The local shops in the village are more welcoming to our canine friends than public spaces...
Carolyn Bistrian January 23, 2013 at 09:57 PM
I hope the answer is not left to anyone who wants to poison our dogs any more than I want to see this guy poison all the children (and their parents) who leave dirty diapers, food wrappers, plastic bottles and the rest of their disgraceful waste on the beaches. Of all of these, I think dog poop is the least of anything in the world we should worry about. If everyone cares so much about it, put more officers on beach patrol. We definitely pay enough in taxes to ask this of our local people-in-charge.
Montaukman January 23, 2013 at 10:08 PM
If we let them ban the dogs next it will be trucks then beach fires then beach blankets then lifeguard stands then children. These people need to go home, meaning the place they ruined before they got here.
Moni January 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM
I'm glad you're responsible Susan McG. K. However, as for "never seeing any dog excrement on the beachers" I find that hard to believe. Try beautiful Atlantic Beach in Amagansett off season. Ugh.
MTS January 23, 2013 at 11:55 PM
Obviously a lively topic! It is enforcement that works and public awareness. In the City, things changed after hefty fines were imposed and enforcement was active. However even there, the experience after a snow storm is unbelievable. For some benighted reason, some people who otherwise are law-abiding in good weather, have come to the conclusion that snow makes the dog poop disintegrate! I am a dog owner and it is many times that I point out the concept of refrigeration and the defrosting effect of snow. Those people look at me as if I were mad. It boggles the mind. Now our beaches are precious and can and should be enjoyed by all of us. But we all have responsibilities. If the State just keeps imposed restrictive regulations, the scofflaws will increase. Why? Reaction to more and more "fencing in" and less respect for individual responsibility with collective sensibility for the community. By the way, a few days after the hurricane, I was at Georgica and the trash cans (that had for good reason been removed) were nowhere in sight, yet people had been trying to do the right thing and had collected poop but had been unable to dispose of the bags, so they left them where the cans would normally be. I actually drove all around looking for a proper receptacle being too far from home at the time. Then I too saw cans surrounded by bags of poop ( and other trash) a few days later. Why couldn't the powers that be use a few shovels to put the bags away? Hope that we can find a way.
Patrice Dalton January 24, 2013 at 12:37 AM
The problem is not the dogs, it is the owners. We should all pick up after our dogs. If I see someone who doesn't, I offer them a bag in case "they ran out". Works every time.
Preliator January 24, 2013 at 02:04 AM
I think we need Adolf Cuomo to get on this right away, a special session of the legislature, late night deals and a few threats should clear this all up.
MTS January 24, 2013 at 03:17 AM
I agree. It always works.
Rick Drew January 25, 2013 at 03:27 PM
It is a problem. Often Town beaches on the bay are used as dog walking sites for professional dog sitters and many private individuals who do not respect the environment enough to clean up. I love nice dogs and responsible dog owners. My neighborhood beach on NW harbor does not have a mitt dispensor or any signage. The town needs to provide more enforcement for our code and better management of signage and supplies.
Mary M. January 25, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Why stop at dog poop? Our beaches are precious to us all. The worst offenders are the bonfires. I personally clean up after these. They are buried, hot coals many times, and blacken our sand. Our sand should be pristine- what's left of it post Sandy. Beaches in California and FLorida are a joy to look at. They are pristine- no cigarette butts either. Our officials need to have evening patrols as well. I care for every one of our beaches. Indian Wells is party central- with bottle everywhere, Wiborg is a bonfire haven. I could go on. The population has grown here over the years, a sense of entitlement is prevalent, and we must under all circumstances protect our beaches!
Martha Nassauer January 26, 2013 at 01:10 PM
I live in Wainscott, and walk my dogs as often as I can down at Beach Lane. I usually bring my own poop bags for one reason. I would rather there be a supply than lazy dog owners use that as an excuse for not picking up after their pet. I am sickened by the amount of poop on the beach, and I have THREE DOGS!!! Oh, yes, I said that already. But, the guy with only ONE dog lets her poop willy nilly...and when told that his dog left a present, he just smiled and said, "yes." Now, this guy is LOADED! He could probably purchase many homes along that stretch, but he can't pick up after his dog? Guess money doesn't buy class. Anyway, is there anyway that we can report these slobs? It doesn't seem possible unless you can provide proof, as there would be those idiots who falsely report people they don't like, etc. I can only think of one way to stop it, and that is to not allow dogs on the beach. BUT, and it is a big one, my dogs would be really sad. So would all their friends that run the beach with them. So, I bring enough bags to clean up not only my dog's waste, but anything that I see. Of course, the debris littered on our shores is not limited to dog waste. I have collected and dumped into the town provided garbage cans quite an array of "people waste." Cigar holders, cigarette butts, food containers, fishing lines, clothing, shoes, diapers - yes, I'm not kidding. I clean as much an as often as I can, its a GIANT beach. I would love to volunteer to coordinate a Pick up Day:
Martha Nassauer January 26, 2013 at 01:16 PM
I will contact the town on Monday for ideas about community involvement. Perhaps even Patch can help, by posting a date, time, and place where those of us who would like to preserve the beaches for all of us to enjoy can work on this together. Please email me in the meantime, or find me on FB (I will now ask my computer savvy daughter to help me create a page...will update you with it ASAP), and even if we have only 1 or 2 people to help, it is 2 to 3 times the coverage than what I alone can do. Martha Nassauer (mnassauer66@yahoo.com) And, I really would like to know how to deal with people when you actually see them leave their dogs waste on the beach. Of course I would love to leave a big pile of poop on their patio or something, but I would be breaking too many laws just to make my point. Please let's work together so that all may enjoy the little piece of heaven we have at our back doors.
Martha Nassauer January 26, 2013 at 02:28 PM
@ Patrice Dalton: I WISH!!! There is one man who goes down to Beach Lane and does not pick up after GIANT loads his beautiful Tanny leaves! He just walks past as if there is nothing wrong! So, for anyone who wants to spend 15 minutes, an hour, or half, join us down at Beach Lane in Wainscott tomorrow at 2:00! See the facebook page: East End Beach Patrol on facebook! http://www.facebook.com/pages/East-End-Beach-Patrol/406408866110710?ref=ts&fref=ts
Carolyn Bistrian January 26, 2013 at 09:07 PM
one possible technique: when you see a person not picking up after his/her dog, whip out your cell phone and either take a picture, or pretend to, and let it be known you're going to report the offense. What do you all think?
Remy McFadden January 27, 2013 at 05:36 PM
I don't give a hoot about Viaga commercials. I am a women with 5 dogs and go to the beach everyday with them. I pick up and then have to carry it home because there are no trash cans. Maybe you should worry about that instead of not allowing the dogs. And why stop at dog poop? What about the people that come to the beaches to wash their hair and do their laundry in the water where I'm swimming. Or how about people who come to the beaches for target practice and leave their broken frisbees and chicken wings and beer bottles all over the place? That seems like a much bigger hazard then the dog poo, which by the way, decomposes.
Martha Nassauer January 27, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Just got back from picking up poop at Beach Lane in Wainscott. As expected, we picked up a good 20+ loads, despite the receptacle of poop bags chock full. We suspended the "official" gathering, as we felt it was too bitter cold today. I can sympathize with the people who want to walk unhampered on the beach, and of course banning dogs should allow for that. However, it is very cool to see how happy dogs are when they get to run free and enjoy the open environment the beaches provide. And, if a dog is happy, so are its owners. I thought of moving several times due to cost of living issues, but what keeps me here is the privilege I am allowed in letting my dogs enjoy the beach. Because I fear this privilege can be taken away, I pick up after other people all the time. Is is fair? Nope. And if we ever start to believe that the little issues don't matter in life when they pale in comparison to the big ones, then we will never tackle anything. Sometimes all we can do are the little things, and they do matter.
eh March 01, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Oddly enough, there is no code in the Village that requires people to clean up after their dogs on Village streets and sidewalks - maybe that should be enacted first ! Nobody has noticed this - News reporters should be asking these questions as well.
Bonita March 22, 2013 at 05:32 PM
clearly owners need to wake up; and the city needs to provide disposal bins for dog droppings in parks and open areas. Owners should be looking after this issue themselves primarily, perhaps if you have your own yard have your dog do his business there before taking him for stroll. My dog actually refused to go on public areas, preferrring his home territory, so clearly it is the owner who is diverting the dogs good behaviour for their own desires. Another issue is that some people keep dogs that are not compatible with their own accommodations, that is too large for an apt dwellers, this is not fair to dog or neighbours.. My city provides disposal areas and signage indicates on leash areas.

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