Dogs on the Beach

West Tisbury revisits this issue tonight in hopes of coming to an agreement before the Annual Town Meeting

Last November, a special was held in West Tisbury to discuss, among other items, the bringing of dogs to .  

At that time, dog owners were allowed to bring their dogs to the beach before 10 am and after 6:30 pm during the summer season. They were allowed to bring them to the beach anytime of the day during the off-season.

At issue were things like the smell of feces and urine, especially on the path leading to the beach and plastic bags filled with feces dumped randomly including bags hanging of bushes and trees, the overflowing containers for the bags and the lack of adequate policing as reasons for their support. Some said that they no longer came to the beach because of the smell and health hazard

On the other side, the dog owners spoke of the pleasure of bringing their dogs to the beach. All claimed to be good citizens, who declared that they cleaned up after their dogs.

At the time, several amendments to the article were offered, but all were defeated. Some suggestions were to increase the fee for the use of the beach; another was to impose a fee to bring a dog to the beach. In the end, West Tisbury voters voted to keep dogs off Lambert’s Cove Beach and between June 15 and Sept. 15 and made violators subject to a $50 fine.

A total of 141 voters attended the meeting and the final vote for the article was 64 for and 61 against.

Among those 61 against are members of what is now called “Friends of Lamberts Cove Beach.” This group has been working since November to come up with a solution so that they can bring their beloved animals to the beach and not offend their neighbors.

Tonight the Friends of Lamberts Cove Beach are holding a forum at the in West Tisbury where they hope voters from both sides of the issue will come to some form of agreement before the Annual Town Meeting next month where the issue is back on the warrant. Pat Gregory, the West Tisbury town moderator, will moderate the forum.

“Since we only lost by three votes, we thought that maybe there was a way to find something that worked for everyone,” said group member Lesley Eaton.

According to Eaton, many people rent homes in West Tisbury in the summer because they are able to take their dogs to the beach, as it was one of the few towns that still allowed dogs at any time.

Some of the solutions the group is looking into are the use of an alternate path for dog owners.

“There is another path to the beach, on the other side of parking lot – way over to right,” said Eaton. “Sherriff’s Meadow has an easement over it and they have no problem with us using that path. One thing dogs do when they get out of car is pee everywhere, if we use that path, that would help to relieve the smell of urine going down main path.”

Other ideas include a well-stocked doggy bag container and a specified trash can for dog waste. Furthermore, the group hopes that if they are also able to serve as volunteers to enforce the use of the path, bags and garbage can – as well as keep track of unruly dogs, they will be able to sway their neighbors.

The will be held tonight at the Howes House in West Tisbury at 7 pm.

Craig Hockmeyer March 26, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Like cigarette smoking, the non-smoker has no impact, the smoker does. So if the smoker wants to exercise their right to smoke, they have to go to the lengths to do it in a place where it won't effect the non-smokers. While I can understand the dog owners wish to be on the beach with their dog, I wish to be on the beach without a dog running over my blanket, barking or even biting, crapping and pissing everywhere, and occupying space that we humans have already over-populated. Yes, 1 bad apple spoils the whole bunch. I have been bitten by a dog on a beach and I don't ever want it to happen to anyone else. Dog-owners need to consider all the aspects of ownership before deciding to have the pet. Not fight to make everyone else conform to their pets supposed needs after. Re-reading this I know I sound like a total dog-hater... I'm not. I am vocal about irresponsible dog owners, of which there are MANY. Best bet would be to designate a dog beach, one that doesn't have many human beach-goers. Lambert's Cove beach is simply too pristine to share with animals.
Maggie Dempsey March 26, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Send them to Squibby. That place has been so seaweedy and rocky in the past few years, I can't imagine any humans wanting to swim in it.
Craig Hockmeyer March 26, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Right on! Dogs don't mind rocks and seaweed!
Mathea Morais (Editor) March 26, 2012 at 08:24 PM
As with many dog stories, it comes down to bad dog owners, not bad dogs.
Sheryl Dagostino March 26, 2012 at 11:25 PM
So true Mathea. Unfortunately, the population of bad dog owners increases in the summer season when everyone wants to enjoy their favorite beach. It is also unfortunate that all good dog owners have to suffer because of the irresponsible ones... It is a hard call -- I definitely do not enjoy the stinky path or the dogs running loose while trying to enjoy a picnic dinner with family and friends. I have also been on the beach with good dog owners and their 'good' dogs. Now with a little one who will be helpless to even get away from the loose dogs running through sand, on blankets and everything in their path (and pooping in the sand where the baby will be crawling), I would have to say 'no' to dogs on the beach given the way it has always been there. There is just no way to control the owners - I know this too well and experience it all over the island. I guess it is just another 'inconvenient truth'.
Jason Peringer March 26, 2012 at 11:44 PM
As a former dog owner, I always brought him to the boat launch off Hudson in OB. Dogs don't care, as long as there is water and they are free. The place was always deserted, but he still wore his electronic collar, for his own protection. Leave the dogs off the beach where the people are, seriously.
Mathea Morais (Editor) March 27, 2012 at 12:49 AM
As a mom of a kid who was attacked by a dog on the beach (and who still is afraid of dogs because of it) I am always a little weary. At the same time, there is nothing as fun as watching a dog frolic in the ocean, you can see them smiling! My sisters dog is now a three-legged dog thanks to careless dog owners, and he LOVES the beach more than anything. And Sheryl, so so so glad to have you on Patch!
Mo Man March 27, 2012 at 12:26 PM
make all the laws, rules, regulations, prohibitions possible, irresponsible dog owners will still ruin it for the rest of us, whether we own dogs or not.. I bike all over the island, in the state forest, and trails.. leash laws and loose dog prohibiitions don't seem to have prevented owners from letting their animals run free one bit. I've been chased, attacked and bit. Many, many dog owners dont care- their dogs run, pee, and crap wherever... our world is their toilet. Keep them off our beaches and on the end of a leash.
Dionis Montrowl March 27, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I am a horseback rider, and I have had similar bad experiences with loose dogs. Horses tend to react violently when chased by barking dogs. Luckily I'm an experienced rider, but there are many who are not as confident, and are afraid to go out into the state forest or Sepiessa reservation, simply because of bad experiences with dog owners who allow their dogs to run free.
Maggie Dempsey March 27, 2012 at 02:41 PM
While the numbers from the vote at the meeting show that the town seemed bitterly divided on this issue, I think the true problem here is that dog owners, like parents, have a "NOT MY BABY!" mentality. They believe its always someone ELSE'S dog, not theirs, that causes these problems and needs to be leashed. In all reality, dogs are animals and, like horses, can react differently to various situations. Even if a dog is perfectly well behaved and a model K-9 citizen, people have fears, many based on bad experiences. As listed here, MANY people have been chased or attacked by loose dogs. According to this article, "All claimed to be good citizens, who declared that they cleaned up after their dogs" Which clearly can't be the case. If EVERYONE had a well-behaved pup 100% of the time, and always cleaned up after them, we wouldn't have this problem in the first place. Moral of the story: Even when you think you're not part of the problem, you could be. Even the best-behaved dog has limits, which are best not pushed. They are, afterall, animals who cannot understand rational thought and logical argument. I mean, they poop on the ground, and then sometimes will consider their leavings as a snack... For an animal that eats its own poop, asking them to demonstrate discretion and judgement for an off-the-leash privilege is asking a bit much.
Mo Man March 27, 2012 at 04:45 PM
thanks for that, Maggie... for more info on the damage dogs cause us and our environment, read the following: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/polluting-pets-the-devastating-impact-of-mans-best-friend-1850113.html
Meredith Trimmer March 28, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I Have two dogs..An enormous Newfoundland and a yellow lab. I know that my dogs are good dogs but i only bring them to the beach when I know that it is only me and them out there..i do not want my dogs to frighten or disturb anyone on the beach! i have had many friends who bring there dogs and they take off..run on someone's blanket , through their food..and scare the pants off of children and adults. Bring your dog to a quiet beach at a time when it is appropriate. I have made it work, it just takes some thought :)
Mo Man March 28, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Meredith has revealed part of the problem- the solution "...just takes some thought."


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