A proposed local law regarding the walking and running of dogs on Southold Town beaches came under fire by several residents at a public hearing Tuesday night at town hall. Many said that the language of the law is too vague and that dogs need to be leashed on beaches — period.
The law as is proposed does not require beachgoers to leash dogs — only that they have control of the animal.
With recent litigation going on, Mattituck resident Dan Catullo said at the public hearing that that language is not good enough. Catullo said he was attacked by two dogs on Bailie beach in Mattituck last summer.
“To claim that anyone can control a dog without a leash is bizarre and against all logic,” he told the town board. “You need a tangible element, something to restrain the animal — a leash. To mandate only that all dogs shall be under supervision is just so vague — anyone can interpret that any way they want at any given time. I understand that there is nothing like the ocean to an animal, plowing into the surf. But we need a strict leash law and there is no way around it.”
Peconic resident Robert Dunn, who lives near Goldsmith Inlet, agreed — as did many — that the idea of dogs running free on the beach is idealistic and romantic but no longer a reality as the population continues to increase with full-time and summer people on the North Fork.
“This law definitely need to be tweaked,” Dunn said. “And anything that is done, you need to give summer residents time to respond. The middle of winter is no time to pass a law like this.”
The current code regarding dogs and beaches does not allow dogs on any beach in town at all — a code that Supervisor Russell said needed updating as more people come out to enjoy the North Fork. Some sections of North Fork beaches are maintained by separate park districts — many of which ban dogs or require a leash law.
Cutchogue-New Suffolk Park District chairman Jeff Smith said that with all the different boundaries in town, a Southold Town law without a strict leashing requirement does not make sense.
“Dogs will not distinguish boundaries between town and park district beaches,” he said. “A dog is just gonna go. If a dog owner is going to use our beaches, that dog owner should be using a leash.”
Supervisor Russell said that enforcement of a stricter law is a problem with limited resources in town — enforcement of leashing dogs and of picking up after them.
"The law was written to try to address all sides of the issue, given the limited enforcement that we have here," he said "But we obviousliy have a lot more work to do."
What do you think? Tell us in the comments.
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