2014-01-17 / Letters

Time to address unleashed dogs

To the editor:

It’s about time. Unfortunately, we had to lose a plover chick for Scarborough’s Town Council to address unleashed, out of control dogs on our beaches. I’m glad Inland Fisheries & Wildlife forced our hand.

I am one of the many people who voted in favor of a town-wide leash law even though I did not in any way support the last-minute effort that brought it about.

For me this issue is not about plovers. It’s about the inconsiderate, oblivious dog owners who make my experiences on the beach and other public lands, with and without my leashed dog, unenjoyable.

Offers by dog owners to self enforce are too little too late.

I’ve faced extreme rudeness when I’ve told someone their dog is not allowed on the beach in the summer until after 5 p.m. I was told by one beachgoer whose uncontrolled dog charged up to my leashed dog, “My dog doesn’t know what a leash is.”

I’ve seen too many owners with no idea that their unleashed dogs just defecated on the beach or, even worse, in the fragile dune grass.

There are dog owners who pick up their dog’s waste, but leave the bags on the beach or on trails. I’ve delivered numerous bags full of other dogs’ waste to the trashcan. Carry it with you. Don’t leave an eyesore for me to dispose.

The previous law, which allowed dogs to be under voice control, was unenforceable. I’ve only ever seen one dog on the beach effectively under voice control.

This is about quality of life in Scarborough, for Scarborough residents. In the course of following this issue last year I was amazed to learn how many out-oftowners drive long distances to allow their dogs to run free on our beaches and add to our problem. I heard speakers at council meetings threaten a precipitous decline in income from tourism if we instituted a leash law. That’s a laughable premise when we consider other coastal towns with stronger leash laws.

Although those in favor of unleashed dogs on the beach are a powerful lobby, they are not respectful of other beachgoers: the elderly who fear being knocked over; those afraid of dogs; those who, like me, do not appreciate a dog urinating on their towel; and those who are vulnerable because their leashed dog is being approached by unleashed dogs and the owners are many yards away.

Scarborough should create dog parks for those who want their dogs to run off leash. The time has come for a leash law on all public lands in town. With education and enforcement it is possible to legislate responsible behavior by dog owners.

Susan DeWitt Wilder Scarborough

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