As a resident of Panama City beach living directly across the street from the “doggie beach” I have seen numerous infractions of the boundaries, clean up, and leash rules. The aptly nicknamed “tootsie roll beach” has been true to its name and I and my children have happened upon several “accidents” outside the designated “doggie beach” boundary. When the dog beach was approved in October 2007 several of my friends and neighbors asked the question “Why this beach?” We are not opposed to a dog beach per say, we are more concerned as to why the city would tarnish the beach directly in front of our newest and nicest tourist attraction.
Take the Poll
In the larger of the sidebars on the right, directly below the Featured Video a poll has been created.
The question: Do you think the dog beach should be moved from the City Pier at Pier Park to another location?
The city told me they designated the Pier Park beach as the dog beach because it is a “dog friendly” area due to the allowance of dogs in Aaron Bessant Park and along the sidewalk areas of Pier Park. I believe that dogs in these areas are great. The City should acknowledge though that Pier Park has its own security guards to enforce proper leashing and clean up compliance. In Aaron Bessant Park there is a great deal of rule breaking and accidents left behind but my children are not sitting in minimal clothing and digging where the dogs are playing. On the beach my children are in fact sitting in minimal clothing and digging. Last fall break I had family visiting and we had to scoop up three accidents 200 yards west of the dog beach boundary before allowing my children to play. In this same area a man took his dog out into the water right next to where my children were wading. Dogs are known shark attractants and when I politely asked him to move back down to the dog beach he ignored me.
After complaining to the city about the dog beach infractions I was directed to Stephani Somerset the executive director of Bay Families with Dogs. She told me to let the perpetrators know of the dog beach boundary as some of them may be unaware. I wanted her to be right but after approaching two more people about the fact they had their unleashed dogs outside the dog boundary they’re response was, “yes we know where the boundary is”, and proceeded to remain in their seats. I go to the beach to relax not play police.
In an article in the News Herald on 2/4/09 it was said that “98 percent of dog owners who use the beach pick up after their dogs…” I would like to say in my experience of being outside of the boundaries of the dog beach the statistic is more like 50 percent. If dog owners were cleaning up after themselves 98 percent of the time why would the dog beach have to hire a beach butler, which it has since done. The ironic part is that the beach butler only cleans up after the 400 feet of designated dog beach. This leaves the accidents outside the dog beach for us to clean up.
I would like to state for the record, growing up I owned a dog who I loved dearly and I have many friends with dogs which they adore. I recognize the importance of raising a happy dog with a life full of exercise and variety but choosing the beach directly in front of our newest and nicest addition to Panama City Beach to provide that “exercise and variety” is not the decision the majority of residents would have agreed to. As I speak to friends and neighbors, including dog owners, we all feel this was the wrong beach to use as a test site for an unregulated city ordinance.
During a time when we are competing with other panhandle beaches for much needed tourism dollars my question to the city is, “What was the motivation in turning the city’s potentially most active beach into a dog beach?” . I don’t see how a dog beach could bring in increased revenue for the improvement of our city. There are no “Dog” retail shops in Pier Park. My point is that making THIS beach a dog beach only downgrades the beach without bringing any additional revenue to the area for things such as sidewalks and community upgrades.
Millions of dollars have been used to put retail on the beach to create an atmosphere in which tourists can have beach, dining, and shopping in one trip. The majority of tourists don’t bring their animals with them. The idea of lying on the sand that is possibly tainted with the morning’s dog activities is not exactly appealing. I understand it is a “nice” thing to have for “some” of the residents but my friends with dogs have admitted they would not take their children to the dog beach for fear of what they might dig up.
My request is that the city moves the dog beach away from the Pier Park beach. Again I am not trying to eliminate the idea of a dog beach. I am not trying to be unsympathetic or unfair to the dog owners who have respected the dog beach boundaries. I am trying to say the Pier Park dog beach experiment needs to end. The majority of dog owners of Panama City Beach have not shown they can govern themselves in this privilege.Print Story