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Shores decides proposed dog law is not yet ready for prime time


Proposed legislation aimed at regulating canines on Indian River Shores beaches needs much more work before it’s ready for a vote, Town Attorney Chester Clem told the town council on Monday.

Prompted by complaints from a small number of residents about unleashed dogs on the town’s beaches, the proposed action would require every dog owner in the town who wants to let their dog run on the beach to get a license from the town’s Public Safety Department.

The license would be available to residents who furnish proof of up-to-date vaccinations, attest “that the dog has not been involved in any aggressive actions towards humans or other pets,” and pay a $50 fee. Once licensed, dogs would be permitted to be off-leash on the beach during certain hours.

New rules would designate blocks of time in the morning and evening – possibly 7 to 9 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m., or longer periods during daylight hours – when licensed dogs would be allowed on designated town beaches. Violators would be subject to fines of $50 to $500 for failing to license or control an animal.

The town held a public workshop on April 17 to discuss the issue of regulating dogs on the beach that led to the proposed ordinance, but Clem said the language needed to be tweaked before a vote.

The measure might seem like an extreme response to complaints from a miniscule percentage of the town’s population – most complaints have come from just two people in a town of 4,200 – but Mayor Tom Slater said “there are people who are frightened of dogs on the beach, and I think we need to respect that.”

Dogs found “at large” would be captured and impounded at the owner’s expense. Dog behavior dangerous to humans would result in revocation of the dog’s license.

One section of the proposed ordinance, which Public Safety Chief Rich Rosell asked be removed or seriously re-worked, would empower police officers or a dog-catcher to kill out-of-control animals: “If any dog found running at large is not provided with a proper collar and tag identifying the name of the owner, as provided in section 90.10, and if the dog cannot safely be taken up and impounded as provided in section 90.11, the dog may be killed by any police or other person appointed to catch dogs.”

Clem said he would have a revised draft ordinance and resolution taking care of all the identified concerns back to town council members for review by the end of the week so they have a chance to fully weigh the implications of the proposed regulations prior to the May council meeting. “This is kind of an exploration, an experiment,” Clem said.