Facing Poop Problem, Village Eyes Dog Ban on Beaches [WATCH]

Board feels its time to re-evaluate the level of restrictions.

The East Hampton Village Board is taking a look at the often divisive issue of dogs on the beach, with trustees leaning towards increasing restrictions to combat problems that arise, such as the failure of owners to pick up after their dog.

Board members said they were surprised after reviewing research Village Administrator Larry Cantwell compiled of how other municipalities in Suffolk County curtail dogs on the beach. East Hampton Village, along with the township, is among the least restrictive.

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.

Even in the face of $250 fines and in spite of plastic bags made available at the beach entrances, owners seem to be leaving behind their dog's business, particularly in the winter months.

Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said the board is "brainstorming" on how to fight the problem. Everything is on the table — such as banning dogs from all beaches and increasing the times dogs aren't allowed on the beaches during summer months.

Trustee Bruce A. Siska said its up to the board to protect the village, even Main Beach's top rated status among the nation's best beaches. He recommended prohibiting dogs from Main Beach entirely "to protect that number 5 rating." He said, "I'd hate to see my 3-year-old grandson go down to where a dog has been before [on the beach]."

Deputy Mayor Barbara Borsack said she's not inclined to ban dogs from one beach and not another. Dog owners would just end of congregating at the other beaches, making the problems worse there, she said.

"It's gotten to the point when we are going to have to get more restrictions, at least between Memorial Day and Labor Day," said Trustee Rick Lawler.

No one agrees more with Lawler than Matt Norklun, who has lobbied for years to ban dogs from village beaches, where he says he finds dog poop left behind more often than not. He contends the issue has worsened over the years, despite signage and bags. He also complains that owners don't have their dogs under control during beach outings.

Just this past Saturday, he said dogs said to be friendly by their owners "attacked" him as he ran along the shoreline between Georgica and Main beaches. "I don't call being head-butted, clawed, and drooled on friendly," he said.

"I am probably the voice of the majority," Norklun said, adding that many people who support him want to remain anonymous.

Jennifer Berkely, a resident of East Hampton Village who has fought in the past to keep dogs on the beach, believes she is apart of the majority. "Each and every time the issue surfaces the same issues come up," she said, referring to ways to educate dog owners. She concedes that there seems to be "a lot of noncompliance during the winter."

"The main thing is to have a dialogue," she said to the board. "I would hate to see the easy decision — banning dogs on the beach. That would be the easy decision."

The mayor said that any proposals the board comes up with will go to a public hearing, as with any new or amended legislation.

One of the biggest problems, Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen told the board, is that some of the village's code regarding dogs on the beach "being under control" is open to interpretation. He would like to see that defined, perhaps to a leash law. "I love dogs. I have my own dogs, but from an enforcement aspect, it's very difficult to control," Larsen said.

It's an issue that is also being fought across the Sound in Southold, too. Late last month, a proposed law regarding dogs on the beaches came under fire, with many saying that the language of the law is too vague. The law as is proposed does not require beachgoers to leash dogs — only that they have control of the animal.

Here is a rundown that the village provided about how other municipalities handle dogs on the beach:

  • The Town of East Hampton prohibits dogs from ocean beaches from May 15 to Sept. 15 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • The villages of Greenport and Port Jefferson prohibit dogs from the beach completely.
  • The Village of Quogue restricts dogs from being on the beach between the Friday before Memorial Day weekend and Sept. 15.
  • The Town of Shelter Island prohibits dogs at bathing or public beaches between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
  • In Sag Harbor Village, dogs are prohibited from Havens Beach and Marine Park from the Thursday before Memorial Day through the Tuesday following Labor Day.
  • Southampton Town beaches allow dogs from Oct. 1 through March 30, provided waste is removed and they are under the immediate control of their owner. Dogs are not allowed within 50 feet of fencing or areas posted for protection of Piping Plovers or other endangered species. Dogs are permitted in the parking area of the Foster Memorial Beach (Long Beach) in Noyac and Sand Bar Beach access area in Hampton Bays.
  • The Village of Ocean Beach allows dogs to run loose on the oceanfront beach between Sept. 15 and May 15 only, as long as they are under the immediate control of their owner. "Said dog or dogs shall not be permitted to defecate upon the beach," the law reads, though if they do go — as dogs usually do — the owner must immediately removed.

Do you want to see the village's laws regarding dogs on the beach become more restrictive? Tell us in the comments below.

Rich Morey February 07, 2013 at 09:28 PM
We always clean up after our dog when we are at the beach or the dog park in Springs. The worst offense I ever saw related to dog poop was when a person in a beach front home opened their door, let their dogs (two of them) run down to the beach, do their business and return to the house. I'm sure the owner of those dogs never came down and cleaned up after them.
Rich Morey February 07, 2013 at 09:30 PM
I agree with what you are saying here. I think dog owners need to be respectful of beach goers and not let their dogs bother sun bathers. I like using a retractable leash so our dog can wonder around but we can also pull him in if there are others on the beach who may not like dogs.
Rebecca Renée Brubaker February 07, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Last Summer, I was "attacked" by the Clinton's dogs while walking mine (leashed) at Main Beach. C'est la vie! :)
laszlo Lowenstein February 07, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Matt Norklun: what's up with the dog poop fetish? And your comment about being the "silent majority" sounds like the rantings of a lunatic ("I swear there are thousands of us; we're just too afraid to speak out because of those mean dog owners"). And Cialis commercials? Get real. Any responsible dog owner will tell you: it's not the dog, it's the owner. Banning dogs would punish both responsible owners and many of the most popular breeds that require exercise in open areas. Here are some ideas: Post clear warnings next to disposable dog mitts: Owners will be fined If there are no bags available (sometimes the case), ask that the owner bring a bag or not bring their dog on the beach. Dog owners who see another person NOT pick up after their dog should speak up and ask that person to please pick up. I often bring two bags for this purpose, offering one to the owner who "forgot" his/hers. Let's keep the existing laws. If you want to retain the "best beaches" rating for Main Beach, pony up some dough and take those editors out for drinks. Don't do it on the backs of law abiding dog owners.
laszlo Lowenstein February 07, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Rich, per my other comment. It is within your right on a public beach to walk onto their property, knock on their beach front door and demand that someone come out and clean up their dog mess. If they refuse, offer (nicely) to bring your own dog's poop onto their property as a quid pro quo or simply dump open your bag on their porch. Problem solved!
S.B. Bonacker February 07, 2013 at 10:53 PM
80% of these dog on the beach issues can be resolved by REQUIRING that all dogs be leashed and owners be in control of them at all times, all hours. Ticket & fine owners up the wazoo when they let their animals run loose. I too have been pounced upon, nipped, sniffed and sanded by canines gone wild at the beach, and the owners never apologized.. Some say "oh, he just wants to be your friend"! Well, I don't need any canine "friends" - thank you. I wish I could defriend every last one of them and just enjoy the beach in peace.
Sophie7 February 07, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Jan I second that emotion!
Sophie7 February 07, 2013 at 11:29 PM
here here and likewise!~ It is always the owners
Sophie7 February 07, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Ridiculous to not be able to let your dog run on the beach with your company in the winter. If you're changing the restrictions, punish the people not the dogs! jeez, there are so few places for dogs to romp. Agreed that some dogs need to be on leads...you know who you are,,,use the retractible ones. STOP trying to control everything! I for one could care less if we r number 1, 5 or 500 in beautiful beaches...maybe a worse score would help some of those thoughtless owners from coming and letting their dogs poop without cleaning up.
Andrew February 08, 2013 at 12:29 AM
I walked with my 2 dogs from Egypt beach to the Wyborg jetty twice this past weekend and saw zero other people, zero other dogs and zero poop (save for what my dogs left and I picked up). This might he a problem in the summer months, but certainly not "off season." In addition, there are lots of non- dog issues that drive me nuts on the beach, including driving, annoying kids, and obnoxis people in general ... And catered parties on Saturday evenings. Why don't we ban all of that too. In all seriousness, how about just enforcing existing laws as a solution?
Big Dog February 08, 2013 at 12:34 AM
That's because you are a .......
@Roseboy324 February 08, 2013 at 01:41 AM
I'm in total agreement with Matt Norklun. "I demand clean sand." The limited number of Village Beach Parking Permits and it's exorbitant cost (and of course it's early sell out) has certainly been effective in reducing the number of unwanted beach goers in the village. Perhaps a Village Beach Doggie Permit might have the same effect thus reducing the poop on our beaches..
SadderBudweiser February 08, 2013 at 03:02 AM
Like many other local problems this is an enforcement problem. The rules in place are sufficient. Enforce them.
laszlo Lowenstein February 08, 2013 at 03:32 AM
RE: clean sand. Why not just ban people altogether? And oceanlife too - they leave all that disgusting fishy stuff on your pristine beach that you demand to be clean, clean, clean. We can all ride in helicopters and take pictures of the beaches we used to enjoy instead! Or take our private planes for an above-the-beach picnic! Why dahling, that is a fabulous idea, why hadn't I thought of that one. Wait, why stop at beaches? Don't we also want clean streets, clean homes, clean ethnicity too? Roseboy324, may all your beaches be white.
ViralGrain February 08, 2013 at 05:42 AM
Matt Norklun your nothing but a OCD nut case. You do not speak for the majority! Any official that thinks you do is just as delusional as you are. Maybe you speak for the majority of dog haters and neurotics like yourself. Your crying in the ear of the officials must drive them nuts. I wish they have a strong enough back bone to tell you to (*&?!-OFF. I know your the kind who can't be reasoned with as most wack jobs are but their are feral cats along the beaches. Lots of them. There are raccoons and deer and seals and geese and plenty of wild life that crap in the sand. I bet the majority of the crap you are losing sleep over is from wild life and not from dogs. Our privilege to run our dogs on the beach is one of the few good things left about our community. Its bad enough we cant grab a cup of coffee and hang out in the town park because of people like you, now the beaches? This community is way over priced and over rated for what it is turning out to be and is only doing as well as it is because it is riding on the coat tails of the things that made this community unique that people like you are destroying. YOU DON'T don't speak for the majority. Your a delusional nut that represent a handful of other dedicated nut jobs with big mouths with a keyboard with nothing else better to do then to stir what it is your complaining about. Ban my dogs from the beach and be prepared for me to exercise my constitutional rights when ever I see you where ever you are. You are no man!
ViralGrain February 08, 2013 at 05:46 AM
I vote for that! Someone make t-shirts! Put him in a 2 piece bikini on the picture of it attacking a puppy.
ViralGrain February 08, 2013 at 05:49 AM
Your a mean idiot! I would bet most people who know you thinks the same.
ViralGrain February 08, 2013 at 05:53 AM
ViralGrain February 08, 2013 at 05:58 AM
Oh here is a idea for you Matt Norklun. There is a list of other towns above in this article not so far from here you can move to where you might like it. Go bother them. PLEASE. Your the villige jerk here. Move.
Big Dog February 08, 2013 at 11:45 AM
You need to change your name as you are not a true "Bonacker." If you were you would love dogs and own a lab and pick-up. My guess is you are a Manhattan transplant...go back!
Francine Whitney February 08, 2013 at 02:59 PM
We are newcomers to the area, and my dog and I have been delighted to be able to go to the beach together, and find great doggie bags there provided free of charge! This is a great gift to dog owners that we don't have to bring our own waste bags. We have been mostly at Indian Wells Beach, but the other afternoon I went to the Main Beach. I was shocked to see many bags of poop lying at the entrance to the beach. Looking around for the trashcan, I saw it was a short distance away... maybe 20 yards from the entrance. Walking on the beach, I also noticed more poop lying around. It would be a shame to lose this wonderful privilege because there are some owners who are too lazy to pick up after their dogs. Come on dog lovers, do your duty and don't ruin it for everyone!
ViralGrain February 08, 2013 at 06:44 PM
BTW- Matt Norklun, the want to be mastermind and biggest sh*% talker of the Hamptons is creating screen names and other aliases in a tactical propaganda maneuver to push his cause and try to persway support. I'm not going to elaborate further on that one. Just think twice of any soft approach you see that angles for his crusade. On another tip the guy has proved he will stop at nothing to achieve his cause and is displaying fanatical behavior. I am really concerned for our dog's safety with this guy on the lose. He has already displayed reckless impulsiveness which lead to him being locked up at least once in his offensive on this issue he has. If any one or anything should be banned from the beach it is him. Dude is a lose cannon with passive aggressive tendencies. I wouldn't be surprised if one day we are reading and commenting on a more disturbing article having to do with this guy and his fanatical behavior. Beware.
john james February 08, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Maybe we should ban people!!! Fence off the beach and leave it to the piping plovers. I would of course allow the haul- seiners back so they can once again continue their way of life, and yes they can bring their labs.
Coco February 08, 2013 at 09:21 PM
I can't count the times I have come across bags of poop on the beach. Either left or washed up with the tide. That really angers me, the bags should be biodegradable. They pose a bigger issue than poop in its natural state. Yes pick it up AND throw it away!
Rich Morey February 08, 2013 at 10:19 PM
This is true. There are rules but during the off season there are no TCO's / life guards, etc. at the beaches to act in any kind of "official capacity" to enforce the rules. As a dog owner I'm embarrassed that other dog owners don't clean up after their pets - part of owning a dog is being responsible about his/her "messes."
laszlo Lowenstein February 08, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Yes, bags are sometimes left on the beach. And Yes, they ARE biodegradable according to the sign posted. So no, bags do not cause a greater problem they offer an opportunity: if you see a bag on the beach and it bothers you, pick it up and throw it away. We live in a community of people who help each other. It is not kryptonite. It is not Ebola. It is dog poop sealed in a biodegradable bag. Get over it.
EH/AMAG February 09, 2013 at 01:02 AM
Why don't they sell dog tags/permits (at a very reasonable cost let's face it those bags aren't free that many people are taking them by the handful back to NYC ) that are required if you wish to walk your dog on the beach; use those funds to hire some local students (who would appreciate the work); to walk up and down the beach during the hours that permit parking is required to clean up the poop that dog owners aren't picking up. It would also reduce the number of plastic bags... never understood why something so biodegradable would be preserved in plastic.
Rick Enlightened February 09, 2013 at 07:06 AM
I definitely do not want to see the rules for dogs on the beach more restrictive. The key is better enforcement and more self-policing from other dog owners and beach goers. And let's really fine the violators who do not pick up after their dog. It is a shame that irresponsible dog owners jeopardize what is such an enjoyable part of owning a dog and living in the Hamptons with our beaches. The Hamptons is "beautiful country" and part of fully enjoying it is having some sense of freedom (responsibly) to be with nature (in this case with one's dog). I hate to see another unnecessary restrictive law because of what I believe is a small minority of totally irresponsible people.
CUL8R February 16, 2013 at 10:19 PM
FYI - Mutt Mitts (the plastic poop bags) are degradable, and will break down in a landfill.
Cynthia February 22, 2013 at 11:12 PM
So here's one for you, take away all public space for dogs to roam, leash them and never let them run free again, hell, muzzle them and put diapers on them and make it a law. What is wrong with everyone. Our dogs are animals( and pets ) and They need to run, feel free and be respected as animals. They are Not a problem to be leashed, restrained and tied up. Why have a dog in the Hamptons if you can't enjoy the beach with them. Owners be smart. Take control of your dog and it's poop and all would be OK except of course with the real animal haters, they will never agree with anything other than keep your dog locked in the laundry room for the rest of it's life. When are dogs jumping and attacking sunbathers on the beach if they aren't allowed on the beach from 9:00 to 6:00 May thru Sept.? Please people think about the whole picture. Let's tolerate, and better yet, work together so everyone human and fur can enjoy the beauty of our outdoor areas. In the summer I work really hard 24/7, sometimes I have an early evening and want to go get my dog and go to the beach. As it is I have to wait till 6:00 to do that and now you want to take away that pleasure from me. Yes I am taking it personally because it is. It's a gift to go to the beach with my dog and enjoy the late day cool breeze after a hard days work and for her it's a gift to go to the beach after a day laying around at home.


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