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Village Looks To Tighten Leash on Dogs on Beaches

Possible restrictions include only allowing dogs on village beaches east of Two Mile Hollow and west of Georgica.

The East Hampton Village Board made it clear at Thursday's meeting that it is leaning toward more restrictions when it comes to dogs on the beach.

Trustee Rick Lawler said he discussed some stricter ordinances regarding dogs on the beach with East Hampton Town Trustee Clerk Diane McNally to discuss the issue since the trustees also have jurisdiction on the beaches.

Possibilities include only allowing dogs on the beach east of Two Mile Hollow Beach and west of the westerly jetty on Georgica Beach. Another alternative is mandating that dogs be kept on a leash within 300 or 500 feet of the entrances. The current hours and times of year dogs are allowed on the beach would remain.

In East Hampton Village, the current law states that 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, some owners leave behind their dog's business, particularly in the winter months.

Those in attendance at Thursday meeting believe some dog owners become lax during the winter months because less people use the beaches.

They said they want an opportunity to put into place new ideas that they think would help combat the problem of owners not picking up after their dogs on the beach.

Steven Gaines, a noted author and Wainscott resident who ran for East Hampton Town Board in 2011, is a regular at Wiborg's Beach in the village.

"I think the problem, by the way, is much bigger than the village," Gaines told the board. "Any tightening up you suggest I'm all for," he said. "The only thing I'm really afraid of is that somebody is going to come forward and ban dogs on the beach altogether and that would be a great tragedy. That's part of our culture, that's actually part of our heritage," he said.

This week, he started an educational organization of dog owners throughout the town dedicated to teaching dog owners to pick up after their dogs. Citizens for Responsible Dog Ownership (CReDO) would raise money, take out ads, and make people aware, much in the same way Citizens for Access Rights (CfAR) was formed in response to the infringement of beach access rights, he said. For more information on CReDO, visit its Facebook page here

"It takes education, education, education. We've got to organize," Gaines said. He asked the board to hold off at least six months before changing the laws to give his group an opportunity, but the mayor said the board is looking to tighten some rules before the summer arrives.

The way the law is currently written, a dog may run free on the beach as long as it is under the control of its owner.

"It's so loose right now — there's no fine or law that promulgated that you're issued a citation, there's nothing in place," Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said. 

Some dog advocates were more resistent to further restriction. "It would be a shame to restrict the geography so much," said Sara Davison, the executive director, at the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, which worked the village a few years back to create a pamphlet for responsible dog walking. For instance, Wiborg's, a favorite place for dog owners to go, could be off limits.

"The issue of controlling the dog is kind of a thorny one," she said. However, "The passionate people here — it's almost a religious experience to bring their dog to the beach — are willing to work with the board," she said. "Good laws with a good crew of volunteers is a recipe for success. The most effective dog laws at the dog park and elsewhere become self policing."

"In the ideal world, everything you said makes perfect sense," Rickenbach said, but in reality, those who have ignored the rules "encumbered it for everyone else."  

Kevin Reynolds, a Springs resident, said he would volunteer three times a week to police the village beaches and pick up dog poop left behind. "If the trustees could just hold off a few weeks and give us an opportunity," he said. "You'll be less likely to put more restrictions in place."

But, McNally, who attended the meeting, said she doesn't feel the ideas the village board are discussing are cutting off access to dog lovers. "This doesn't appear to be a bit change for access to the beach," she said.

How do you feel about the changes the board is discussing? How would you feel if these changes were implemented.

Sophie7 March 08, 2013 at 02:37 AM
The problem is the OWNERS, the PEOPLE not the dogs...Do NOT punish the dogs This is not a police state! i can think of 50 better ways to spend your time and money fixing things here that NEED fixing. What is happening to the lovely place i grew up. It is so not lovely anymore with this attitude
Joe March 08, 2013 at 11:54 AM
We should do what NYS does at Jones Beach and Robert Moses; no dogs on beach year round, no exceptions.
cynthia quigley March 08, 2013 at 01:40 PM
So many people get great enjoyment out of walking their dogs on the beach. My husband is one! He gets up early, meets many friends at Main Beach, then takes our beloved pooch for a walk on the beach. He DOES take the black baggies with him and cleans up after the dog. He does this every day ... Rain or shine and has been doing it for years. His father did the same before him and he used to clean the beach of items left behind by beach goers. My husband has been a village resident for over 70 years and is not happy about this new proposal. PLEASE do not ban our dogs from the popular beaches.
Barbara F March 08, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Then I think they should also ban anyone that plays music too loudly, leaves garbage, makes fires, urinates in the ocean, or has screaming babies. It's not about dogs. It's about inconsiderate, thoughtless, rude behavior from people on every level and in every environment. Most people are conscientious dog owners and one of the reasons we live out here is to avail ourselves of the ability to enjoy walks on the beach with our four legged children. I don't even take my dogs to the beach but I think owners should have some time to walk, play, and exercise ther pets on one of the main reasons this area is s popular. It's a beach community. Everyone should be able to enjoy it at one point in the day Two legs or four.
chris minardi March 08, 2013 at 02:17 PM
this is a issue of clean and safe public beaches, not dogs. I go to the beach every day, and it really is dirty. Plus, there are dogs that run after people and other dogs. its unfortunate but we need elimniate dogs from the beach durring the summer. you cant bring a dog to the park, this is no different, actually more people and children are at the village beaches then the park.
Barbara F March 08, 2013 at 02:21 PM
Aggressive dogs, aggressive people. Ever see a fight over a parking space? Hey we can solve that problem too! No cars in the Village during the summer
Jon Clemens March 08, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Jon C I've only lived here ten years, so I'm a newbie unschooled in this ancient tradition of dog poop on the beaches, but I happened to notice - while passing by the ball field on Abraham's Way - that there was a sign on the gate saying no dogs were allowed on the field. So, let me get this straight: unleashed dogs are OK on beaches where people walk barefoot, but on ball fields where people wear shoes, not so much. Guess they didn't have ball fields in the 1600s...
JOE CITIZEN March 08, 2013 at 02:54 PM
Agreed. I have a dog and enjoy walking him on the beach as well, but Im happy to fore go that experience if it means my kids can sit on the beach and not touch a pile of dog poop, or we can eat breakfast and not have dogs running all over our food and spraying sand everywhere. People have rights, dogs don't when its comes to public spaces.
mj15 March 08, 2013 at 03:12 PM
This is all becomming just too silly! Why is it we seem more often to legislate to the least common denominator than actually deal with a problem. The vast majority of dog owners are responsible caring people or they wouldn't own dogs to begin with! This is just more of the blame the victim mentality of our nation as a whole. Poor dogs most of whom are rescued, punished once more. I'm disgusted.
ViralGrain March 08, 2013 at 03:28 PM
I have the ultimate solution to this problem. Since dog owners and their dogs have have had the privilege of using the beach before any of us came to settle here then the issue is over. Don't like it then move. No one asked for you to move here. Their are plenty of other communities that have restrictive rules that you can move to where you may not have to worry about stepping in some poop but should watch out from stepping on hypodermic needles instead. I grew up here in a time where the life gards were not only our life gard but our baby sitter also. Where everyday at the beach consisted of anywhere from 40 to 70 local kids with our blankets laid out and fun in the sun. I still frequent the beach. I have never stepped in any poop at the beach or have even seen any dog poop ever. The people complaining about this I think are nothing more then neurotic nut cases. There are lots of feral cats along the beaches, and other wild life and I think the poop your seeing are not from dogs at all. Our community has thrived being the community it is. If you don't like the laws we have then is real simple, leave and take your medication with you.
CUL8R March 08, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Everyone keeps saying the "majority of dog owners are responsible" - if this were true then dogs on the beach would NOT be an issue. Yes there are PLENTY of responsible dog owners, but clearly there are also PLENTY of irresponsible dog owners. I am a dog owner, I do not walk my dog on the beach. I'm sure its the same dog owners allowing their dogs to poop on the beach and not clean up that also allow their dogs to poop in the Springs Park and who also do not clean up there - that place is almost disgusting with the amount of dog feces left lying around. ViralGrain has a valid point - there is a colony of feral cats right at Main Beach - I have no doubt they are using the beach as their litter box! There is also a colony at Egypt Beach - maybe something should be done about the cats!!
CUL8R March 08, 2013 at 04:29 PM
Owning a dog does not automatically make you a responsible caring person, it only makes you a dog owner. Have you ever really noticed that dogs don't really care where they walk...i'm sure all of the dogs on the beach would be prefectly happy running through wooded trails...lets not anthropomorphize the dogs!!
S.B. Bonacker March 08, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Yes, I agree that there are far more RESPONSIBLE dog owners than there are careless dog owners, but it's unfortunate the careless owners have now ruined it for everyone else. Why don't officials make just a few of the beaches dog-free, then beachgoers who don't want to be around dogs can just go to those beaches and have peace of mind. I think in the Village, Wiborg beach would be a good dog-free choice, and for a town beach, how about Atlantic beach banning dogs since there are so many families who go there! The feral cat issue is a whole other discussion, they do contribute to the animal feces problem at the beaches, but these colonies have been allowed to thrive beacuse the "animal rights" people fought tooth & nail when officials tried to remove and relocate them.
eh March 08, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Not much progress on the issue ...did no one notice ? Leash suggestion solves nothing (they can still make a mess) and Limiting the dogs to West of Two Mile/West of Third Jetty is the Town Jurisdiction = Which equals a Village Ban... reporter missed this, As did Trustee Mcnally. Most likely scenario is that no new laws will be created.
ViralGrain March 08, 2013 at 07:06 PM
I think the real issue are not dogs pooping on the beach but the small handful of neurotic dog hating yuppis who feel the need to have to control everything. For hundreds of years this has never been an issue nor should it be now. All the reasons that made this place desirable are fading away. If you don't like the beach here then leave. Its amazing we come in the top 10 of best beaches every year. Don't everyone forget that this is basically a one man crusade who is very sick who has fostered up alias screen names to push his agenda and get people to jump on his band wagon. There is no problem with our beaches. If their was parking would never be a problem in the summer. The concession stands and hotdog trucks would be out of business. Travel and Tourism magazines and channels would not vote this one of the number one beaches in America. This whole thing about dogs on the beach is nothing more than a witch hunt by people who this hate dogs and animals. Anybody who does not like animals are not good people and will try to give good people a hard time regardless and we should not allow them to tred on our way of life here.
JOE CITIZEN March 08, 2013 at 07:43 PM
I love animals, I love my dog and all my friends and families dogs. I was born and raised here and am as far from being a yuppie as you can get. I am all for eliminating dogs on the beach in the summer time. I want to be able to eat a bagel on the beach in the morning and not have someones dog come and jump on me as Im eating or knock my kids down and ruing their food. This is not a witch hunt by a single person. There are many local people who do not want the dogs on the beach all the time. The reality is that the people of this town and the people that visit have rights and privileges above those of dogs. If the people that walk their dogs on the beach had policed themselves better this would never have been an issue. Ive seen many people bag the poop and leave it on the beach, Ive seen people pretend to not see their dog poop, Ive had countless dogs jump on me while Im eating and the owners simply call from 100 yards away "its ok he's friendly" Generally speaking people have not controlled or picked up after their animals, its their fault that they are now at risk to lose the privilege. Notice I didn't say right, because its a privilege, not a right.
ViralGrain March 08, 2013 at 08:36 PM
When you say people, you are referring to who? All people? There are many local people who I would bet like the fact that we are free to take our dogs on the beach. I bet their are plenty of local people who don't want government trampling on our freedom also. Don't we have enough laws and regulations in this country already?Maybe no one should be able to go to the beach after sunset. Maybe you had a bad experience and I can appreciate that. Maybe dogs like you. Not all dog owners are in control of their dogs and they should be dealt with accordingly and individually. I had a bad experience with some lady and her 2 Afghans once. But that was one experience out of countless great experiences with other dogs and their handlers. I really never came across any poop on the beach. I even look for it now thanks to this stupid topic and still have yet to see any. Everything is a privilege. Your only rite is to die and pay taxes. So by you saying its only a privilege to take my dogs to the beach is saying you have the rite to dictate my freedoms. If you don't like to be around dogs on the beach then its simple, go to the beach when dogs are not allowed on them. Why is your rite to use the beach how you feel the beach should be used more valid then my rite to use the beach how I feel fit to use it? Are you better then me? Are you better then everyone else who takes pleasure in taking their dog to the beach? I don't think so. Weather you grew up here or not if you don't like it leave.
JOE CITIZEN March 08, 2013 at 08:46 PM
I wasn't saying that I was better than anyone. The statements above were saying that only out of towners want to eliminate dogs on the beach and I wanted to show that local people are in favor of it as well. I'm not saying that my individual rights supersede your individual rights, but the rights of the few can not impede on the rights of the many. The reality is that the large majority of the people who use the beaches do not bring dogs. The people that bring dogs are in the minority. And the people who can not control their dogs are an even smaller minority. So that very small group of people should not impose their supposed rights on the majority. That's the way a society works. It shouldn't mean someone has to leave a town because of it. Almost every other place I know of does not allow dogs on the beach. Its not that big of a deal, but it affects the quality of life for the people that want to enjoy the beach without someones dog ruining it for them.
Rushwind March 08, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Like dog excrement is the only foul thing on the beaches? Baby diapers, refuse from lunches, glass in fire pits... Oh, you want to restrict urinating in the ocean too? What are the fish going to do? Hold it until they are 20 miles off shore? Let's turn East Hampton into the Nanny State NYC has turned into why don't we. I think that is what would make you all happy. So a few bad dog owners are not as responsible as they should be. I say then we don't let babies on the beach to reduce the risk of fouled diapers because there are a few lazy parents. And no eating on the beach either because someone might not pickup after themselves. You guys are on a slippery slope.
CUL8R March 08, 2013 at 10:10 PM
It is a privilege to be able to take your dog on the beach, many places do not allow it for the very reason that is being argued in the village now...irresponsible dog owners. In general it is normally the smaller group that ruins it for the rest. Perhaps stricter time frames for dogs on the beach could be enforced (6am-10am) and/or some sort of pup pass can be purchased for the summer season and if caught in violation of an ordinance (dog not under control, pooping and failing to clean up, failing to purchase a pup pass, being on the beach during restricted hours etc) the pass is revoked and so is the privilege of having your dog on the beach for the rest of the summer - TCO's could monitor the dogs as they enter onto the beach - it may not work but its a thought. I think instead of going straight to a dog ban, there should be some sort of stricter policies regarding the dogs tried out for the upcoming season, if they don't work then maybe a ban during the summer of 2014 would be in order.
CUL8R March 08, 2013 at 10:28 PM
one suggestion was to leash the dogs for the first 500 feet from the beach entrance...The town has the same law and apparently no issues with it...why not try that?!

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