Let Dogs on the Beach

by September 19, 2008 • 28 comments

Picking one area on the beach for our dogs to roam and play is ridiculous – not everyone lives near the City Pier.  Yes, it is better than before when they weren’t allowed at all and the penalty was a $200 fine, but designating them to just one area is still a problem and needs a better solution.  Recently they’ve been given freedom to roam the beach access across from Pier Park, but I want to see all of our 27+ miles of beach open to our four-legged friends.

One argument may be that letting dogs on the beach will create a number of problems – from dog poop on the beach that’s not thrown away, to frightened or allergic beach-goers that may find the dogs to be a nuisance.  These are all petty excuses for not inviting all kinds to a public place.  For the dog poop issue, I’d argue that it is not hardly as hazardous as walking over all the the litter left behind or nearly as disgusting as a forgotten dirty diaper.  Dog owners aren’t the only ones slacking in the “get some cooth” department.  If this were the reason for keeping dogs off the beach, it is certainly a lame one.  We certainly couldn’t fine those bringing their babies to the beach or anything else that would cause litter.  There are trash cans for these problems and we can only leave it to the people to decide how clean its kept.

If our dogs are being kept off the beach due to protecting the few who might be afraid, then they should think about two things.  Remember the beach is long and wide – move away just as you would if you didn’t like crowds of people at the beach.  Or wait until the dog passes you – sure enough the dog is there to roam and play, not to stay in one spot, sunbathing on a towel.  Knowing a few dogs myself, they don’t usually stay too long and tend not to go the beach during the prime hours most others do.  I’ve found they like early morning or after sundown due to the heat.

So if your opposed to the idea of having our four fury-pawed friends put their paw prints in the sand, I suggest you change your mind or come up with a real reason they should remain off.

I’m grateful for the little beach access given, but I won’t be satisfied until they’re allowed the entire beach, until I don’t have to drive my dogs miles down to enjoy the beach side, or until I can use the beach access close to my house and walk my dogs over.

Print Story

Related Stories

Additional General Stories

More Ways to Connect with Us


1 JASS September 19, 2008 at 4:26 pm

You aren’t offering any solutions in your argument – instead, you are implying we should be giving our domesticated friends equal rights, in particular because there is an inconvenience factor for you the way the rules are currently written. Also, there are leash laws so if you are at the beach, your pet shouldn’t be roaming around, they should be on a leash.

Have you been to a beach where dogs are allowed 24/7? Cabo San Lucas springs to mind and it is absolutely disgusting because of the dog poop. For as many humans that are responsible pet owners, there are an equal amount that are not and who do not pick up after their dog in a public location. I was at The Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin one time and a couple in front of us let their dog sheet right in the middle of the walkway and didn’t pick it up! They stopped, watched their spoiled surrogate child poop, and continued to walk on!! Additionally, I was at the beach at sunset with friends one time where we witnessed a dog dump and the owner did not pick it up. I also heard the story of someone who was at the beach at sunset and a roaming dog that had run to the beach a minute or two before his owners proceeded to come up to this person who had their feet in the water, and dump right in the water (and it was obvious the dog had an upset stomach). The owners weren’t around yet to witness it and even if they were, what could they have done? Just nasty!

Secondly, dogs are driven by instinct, not common sense, and no one can ever know how a dog will take to any one person. We’ve all heard it several times – the story of how the sweet family pet who one day turned into Cujo and ended up biting dad, mom, kid, family friend, the mail man…

I have seen the consequences of letting dogs be on the beach without restraint and, I, a dog owner myself, am SO thankful there are strict rules and laws in place to prevent the beaches from becoming dumping grounds and for preventing the possibility of someone getting bit. Dogs are dogs – they are NOT humans and I cringe when people treat them like they are.

2 Kirk Lancaster September 19, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Wow, they think I’m Utopian for dreaming of a perfectly trash-free beach and a thrifty TDC.

I’m a huge dog lover (we have 4) and am very supportive of the existing PCB Dog Beach (achieved through the hard work of Bay Families with Dogs). But even I am totally against a “let dogs run anywhere” mentality in our public spaces.

Sorry, Lauren, it ain’t gonna’ happen.

3 Kirk Lancaster September 19, 2008 at 5:46 pm

P.S. If you are willing to put your dog in the car or a boat, there are many great places in Bay and surrounding counties where you and your pup can play in the water together.

4 JAKE September 19, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Lauren – I am sorry, but I am going to have to disagree with your article as it presents a “in a perfect world” scenario, but really does not depict reality. I have 2 dogs which ARE my children. I love my dogs, and if you come to MY home, then you need to respect that it is their home too – but I also respect the fact that not everyone loves dogs – nor does everyone like/trust them or feel comfortable around them. I also live within walking distance to the beach and when I go, I don’t want to have to be on the look out for “land mines”, keep an eye out for unruly/unleashed dogs, or have a dog run and jump up on me only to have the owner say “oh he won’t bite” or “ohh he’s just saying hello”. Pet owners are similar to parents – some have well behaved children and have a sense of awareness of how their child’s actions may affect others. On the other hand some parents have unruly children that run around, leave messes, and are basically brats.
I understand your point of view – and wish I could take my dogs to the beach more often than I do, but when I think of how violated and disgusted I feel when I see beer bottles, coke cans & cigarette butts all over the beach I would hate to know I contributed to the problem or caused someone else to feel the same sort of violation.

5 Judy September 20, 2008 at 9:02 am

I don’t think dogs should be allowed on any beach. You are implying that dogs are equal to people and that isn’t true. They are pets. Are you in favor of allowing cats, pot-bellied pigs, ferrets and other family pets? Why are dogs any different?

If dogs are allowed on Panama City Beaches, many tourists would find somewhere else to visit and many locals would sadly turn away from our local gem. The beach would cease to be a gem, actually. For the majority of people who don’t find dogs delightful, the enjoyment of the beach would be lost. I, for one, hope the city pier beach soon bans dogs again.

6 Kate September 20, 2008 at 9:49 am

My hometown, Norfolk, Virginia, allows dogs on the beach. In fact, I walked my dogs on the beach virtually every day for 7 years until I moved to Florida. The City of Norfolk’s approach is very balanced, in my view. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day dogs, accompanied by their owners, are allowed on the beach before 7 a.m. and after 6 p.m. Other times of the year dogs, with their owners, are allowed on the beach all hours between 6 a.m. and midnight. Norfolk has a leash law. And, by the way, the beaches were not overrun with dogs.

7 Bearabull September 20, 2008 at 6:15 pm

I am not a dog lover as I have had a family member mauled by one that was supposedly tame. I do not want dogs running up to me. I don’t care how well behaved they are. If they were, they would not be running up to other people. I have seen dogs on the beaches of PCB and I have seen people not pick up after them and they were not on leashes. I say a BIG NO to letting dogs on the beaches.

8 Keith September 21, 2008 at 2:04 pm

She has a good point the beach needs to be open to dogs every where. Dogs are mans best friend even though people have been bitten by dogs should the whole dog population be punished. People have hurt other people and are still able to attend the beach. I dont see the difference I say a big yes to dog on the beach!!!!!!

9 JAKE September 21, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Keith – you have GOT to be joking. Dogs biting people is but a small fraction of the issue, although it is a factor to be taken into consideration. You failed to address people letting their dogs loose, not cleaning up after them, the cost to the county for additional cleaning & signage, possible animal control issues, etc. I think you have totally missed the point – the dogs are NOT being punished – rather the beaches are being protected for the use of those whose dollars keep our area business owners employed and that our county depends upon. I wonder why so many dog owners are taking this personally (as an attack towards the dogs they own) – and not looking at it from an objective viewpoint. The beach is not YOUR back yard, or MY back yard – it is all of ours… therefore we must act in the interest of all that may visit it… which mean both dog lovers and non-dog lovers alike.

10 Maegie September 22, 2008 at 6:00 pm

Okay, Okay dog dissers let me let YOU in on a little secret. SPRING BREAKERS are worse than dogs. They trash the beaches. They leave their beer bottles and act like they own the beach. Dogs, they do not trash the beaches. Spring Breakers may not poop on the beach like dogs, but that’s why dogs have owners! To pick up the poop! I think it is a great idea to let dogs on the beach. As long as people are responsible to pick up there poop and keep them on a leash that would be fine in my opinion. Now, I do not think letting them roam free would be a good idea because some dogs can attack people they think are crazy looking. In a way the beach is being protected by not having them roam free along the shoreline BUT if there were strict rules for dogs being allowed on the beach would make it easier for you dog lovers!

11 Zach September 22, 2008 at 9:09 pm

Sounds to me like a lot of Panama City locals are blaming the dogs for being dogs. If they do not own up to the responsibility of training and cleaning up after their animals they would not have this problem. They are animals. Let them on the beaches with restrictions. Fine the irresponsible owner, not the dog. The beach does attract tourists, which brings money. Maybe the county should start focusing on a new way to make money.

12 Christoper September 22, 2008 at 9:46 pm

What we be a big deal about letting dogs on the beach with rules? If the owner can handle it then dogs should be allowed. There are responsible people out there that will take care of their dogs but you have to give them a chance. How can all you people judge when your not giving the dogs and owners a chance? Yeah, there is a small part by the pier for dogs and obviously its working so let there be more beach!

13 STEVE O September 23, 2008 at 3:22 am

I think she has a really good point.
These days it seems tougher and tougher to find beaches that will allow dogs.
It seems only natural to think that a dog would be welcome on a beach, some of us are responsible dog owners that have trained dogs. so how is it different with dogs, people are far more disgusting, seeing and smelling the vomit and chewing gum on our beaches, steping through broken beer bottles and god knows what else. so what is the BIG DEAL about, let the dogs on the beach !!!!!!!!!!!!

14 TIM September 23, 2008 at 7:10 am


15 John F. September 23, 2008 at 8:01 am

People are generally slobs. See all those cigarette butts on the ground? I don’t want to share a beach with dogs. Even with a leash law, people will ignore it and let their dogs loose. People won’t clean up after their dogs. Want proof? Take a walk around the Frank Brown Park. Slobs! Every last one of you dog owners. I have been on the pier fishing when they started to allow dogs on the beach by the pier. I saw all the dogs running loose and then gather up as soon as the Police vehicle drove on the beach. You slobs don’t deserve a dog beach. Let your dogs crap on your own property. I don’t move when I am walking or jogging and someone is nearby with a dog. I will not be intimidated! You dog owners have the responisbility to control your dogs. Bite me and I will sue!

16 Christine September 23, 2008 at 8:05 am

Puhleeeze… humans have more rights than animals. Period. I WOULD NOT take my toddler to a beach that allowed dogs to roam freely. Shoot, there are times in my relatively fancy neighborhood that I can’t walk with my daughter in a stroller because one family insists on walking their two pit bulls and a german shepherd off leash (only on culdesac, though). I tried to walk quickly by when I realized the situation, but they saw the baby’s waving arms and legs and were intrigued and excited. I had to put my entire body over the stroller to keep the dogs, who were just curious and excited, from accidentaly injuring her. NOT my idea of fun.

How should I handle that when I’m sitting on the beach with my daughter playing in the sand a few feet away, when some dog comes along and wants to check her out and “play”?

The key issue here is that until ALL (and I mean every single one) dog-owners are responsible and pick up after their pet, keep them restrained, and are able to control them at all times, pets should not be in public… either on the beach, at Pier Park, or at the concerts in the park. Yes, it’s unfortunate that a few ruin it for the many, but such is life.

Dr. Daniel Finley, GCCC Health Sciences Professor, has written very thorough op-ed pieces to the NewsHerald regarding the health concerns of dog feces on the beach. Maybe a search of the NewsHerald’s archives could enlighten those that seem to be new to this argument.

This topic has been discussed ad nauseum in our community. Let’s move on, please.

17 Daniel September 23, 2008 at 8:25 am

Let me start by saying that I love dogs, but I love my one year old son more. My son plays in the sand and puts everything that he can in his mouth. (That’s what boys do). There is feces all over. I’d be happy to walk the sand with anyone. Further, my wife and I run on the beach and have been chased and almost bitten several times each, in the past 5 years. Unfortunately, dog owners don’t get it!

18 Kim September 23, 2008 at 10:44 am

Obviously, you have never had a child mauled by a dog. It happens in less than a blink of an eye. Dogs are animals, unpredictable. Even the most family loving dogs can react in unpredictable ways that you as the dog owner are unable to control in a given second. Our beaches are family friendly, thats humans, not animals. I agree with an earlier post who said sometimes, even in nice neighborhoods, while walking with your children you go a different way just to avoid someones “family pet” who “sounds” aggressive. It’s just not worth the risk. The bottom line is animals are unpredictable, not to mention the doggy doo on those sugar sand beaches.

19 ron September 23, 2008 at 1:21 pm

No dogs please. The litter can be bad enough without dealing with poop. A small number of dogs can make a large area very family unfriendly.

Also many families with small children will avoid the beach out of fear for the safety of their children.

It would be a big mistake to have anything other than a controlled limited area for dogs.

20 Don September 23, 2008 at 2:51 pm

I live on the Beach in an area where for some reason dog owners think it’s Ok to bring their pets. I can tell you what really happens when people think no one is watching. The majority of owners do not pick up after their pets. If anything, they kick a little sand over it and keep on walking.
Dogs on the Beach is a bad idea.

21 Maegie September 23, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Well I am sorry but if he puts everything in his mouth you should not be letting him poop in his mouth! If you let your loving son in the back yard and he puts dirt in his mouth he will get ring worms! Cats pee in every ones yard! You have not valid point!

22 JAKE September 23, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Maegie…. what is wrong with you? I am hoping you just did not proof read your post prior to submitting your comment – none the less I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are basically saying that Daniel should keep his child from putting things in its mouth. Have you ever had a child.. met a child, seen a child, babysat a child? If so then I am sure you would agree that children are curious by nature and can sometimes act faster than a parent can react. I am not a parent, but am still totally aware of the swift movement of children’s hands – and they always seem to go directly to their mouths. I think this just serves as just another example as to why dogs do not need to be allowed everywhere on the beach. The fact that they have thier own area allows parents to take their children to the beach, avoid those areas in which feces might be left my non-responsible pet owners, and eliminate the worry that Daniel expressed. Just for the record I am a dog owner. I pick up after my dog – but also know not everyone does… this is a reality we must keep into consideration before making swift decisions about dogs on the beach. I think in a round about way – the dogs are being punished for thier owner’s actions. To restrict the dogs is to restrict the owners that forever break the rules.

23 Judy September 24, 2008 at 7:58 am

The dogs are not being punished for their owners’ actions. It is not a pleasant experience to be near them! I am not afraid of most dogs but some are intimidating. I don’t like all the “friendly” dogs who assume I love them and invade my personal space. I don’t want them running past me or walking by on a leash, hoping I will pet them when they strain against the leash to get close to me for some attention. They are dogs. Dogs behave like dogs. Many people, myself included, don’t like dogs for the same reasons other people love dogs. Dogs think every human loves them. Dogs think it’s all about them. I don’t want to hang out with dogs. When I go to the beach, I want to relax and not keep watching to make sure somebody’s dog is not going to come over and sniff at my blanket or jump on me or even brush against me. I have a right to enjoy the beach without someone else’s dog taking that pleasure away. The beaches don’t belong to just the dog-lovers. If dogs are allowed on the beaches, only the dog-lovers will get to enjoy the beaches. Keep your pets at home!

24 Maegie September 24, 2008 at 9:50 am

Jake- I do believe nothing is wrong with me. Yeah I did not proof read and I apologize Jake! And yes I have been a nanny and grew up babysitting. I guess I can say that I watched over children so well that when I took them to the beach NOTHING besides crackers went in their mouth. I was making a statement as if your going to bring your child to the beach then don’t let them put sand, seaweed, dog poop in their mouths! I am sure a grown up has the power to watch over their child at the beach and make sure what goes in their mouth is edible. Just for the record, I am a dog owner and I do pick up after my dog. He is trained and if I take him to the beach then he is watched over and his poop does get picked up.

25 Lindsey September 24, 2008 at 1:02 pm

we all need to face the fact that there will never be a compromise between the arguments above!!! Kids are prone to explore everything everywhere dependant upon who is watching them…..( nanny of 10 years i did pretty well with children not eating the unedible!!) Dogs trained or untrained are curious as well. Maybe possibilities of another designated beach area or a couple more. Opinions of not having anything available to satisfy each group sufficiently is stupid. Allow certain areas certain times certain restrictions for pet owners and their pets! Not all pet owners are irresponsible as some above insist we all are. Ive seen plenty of HUMANS do plenty of far more horrible things on the beach than a dog taking a dump. Diapers are left ive seen that litter, people have to go when they have to go so hmm go anywhere is what i have seen as well!! If your worried about what you or your child will catch out there obviously you need not be out there whether animals are alowwed or not. I guess some are afraid that once someone says its ok for pets to be on all of beach areas then all pet owners will immediately grab up every animal they have and run the beaches wildly! im sure this would not be the case….. maybe not the whole beach but a couple more areas for responsible owners. !!! just my few cents on the matter… oh yeah and ive also see some spring breakers act far worse than even the most untrained animal!

26 Ron September 24, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Tick. Tick. Tick. I had this wonderful Doberman, perfectly conformed, around a 100lbs, and everything you could ask for in a pet. For 9 years this dog was family. It slept with the kids, had makeup put on my little girls, a horse for little boys. It swam for hours in the pool with kids and adults alike. Then that faithful day, after 9 years of “perfection”, it attacked a lady visiting for the day. She walked in the door, he looked up and attacked her. Thank God she had on a heavy coat and only suffered bruising on her arms. Tick. Tick. Tick. A close friend had an attacked trained Rottweiler. Its unbelievable the damage this dog could do. He let his 12 year old take it to the park on a leash. It yanked free and attacked another dog, killing it in short order. Yeah, I know, it probably thought it’s owners child was in danger. Skud was destroyed and my friend was able to settle out of court,thankful it wasn’t a person his dog killed. Tick. Tick. Tick. And then my neighbor two houses down in Gig Harbor, Washington was minding her own business cooking the evening meal in her own kitchen. She was attacked by two pit bulls belonging to the neighbor behind her. They had jumped the fence to chase her cat and when the cat ran through the pet door into the house they followed. She survived but will be scarred for life. Of course the standard verbage came out, as it did with my doberman, “Why, these dog(s) have never done that before.” Tick. Tick. Tick. There are reasons why some apartments won’t allow certain breeds of dogs in their complexes. Tick. Tick. Tick. There are reasons why some insurance companies are now refusing policies if you own certain breeds of dogs. Tick. Tick. Tick. There are reasons why certain elements in our communities keep certain breeds for “protection.” Tick. Tick. Tick. As much as I love my dog, when I’m in public with her she’s in my arms. You still have that errant child, everyone except Maegie that is, that wants to “pet the puppy.” And adults that should know better will come up and put their hands on her before you can stop them in most cases. That ticking you hear, its a bomb and nobody is really sure how long of a fuse it has. Tick. Tick. Tick.

27 Maeg September 24, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Tick.Tick.Tick. Is this bash on Maegie because I am stating my opinion? No need to get defensive. I mean, I know what dogs are capable of and obviously I know kids put stuff in their mouth. All I am saying is watch them from doing so! I’m just voicing my opinion like the rest of you! This blog is not to bash on me. It is to talk about dogs on the beach!

28 Jason Koertge September 24, 2008 at 6:31 pm

Ok, I’m going to have to shut this down. This is going downhill fast. One of the purposes of pcbdaily is to provide a medium to support an intellectual conversation about some of the hot topics of our area.

While there are strong arguments both ways the integrity of this post is degrading quickly. I saw no personal attacks made by Ron, and another comment I declined to approve was just plain tasteless and inappropriate.

Thanks to all for reading, and I hope you all continue to read and participate in other posts.