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Off-leash dogs need leashing

October 28, 2015
By Bill Veach , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

There seems to be lots of dogs off leash on the beach these days. I noticed that as the people thinned out in late summer, many dog owners saw a beach without as many people as an opportunity to let their dogs go off leash.

Many people moved here because the beach is dog friendly. But the rules remain, all dogs must be on a leash that is under control of someone, and the leash should be no longer than six feet. Just one off leash dog sets an example to other dog owners that they too can let their dogs go off leash. Some dogs are better behaved than others, but almost everyone thinks there dog is better behaved than it is in public with strangers. Our shore birds are easy to chase, but they are stressed and expend valuable energy when they are flushed off of the beach by someone's dog. Not everyone is a dog person, some are afraid of dogs, even your dog.

The daily newspaper reported that a woman was swimming with her three dogs off leash when they attacked a family and their dog, injuring a child and severely injuring their small dog. This woman then quickly gathered her dogs and drove off. The victims have no way of testing the attacking dogs for rabies, meaning they might have to go through a series of painful shots. Certainly, this is an extreme case, but it reflects badly on all dog owners. It is too common to see off leash dogs chasing shore birds and charging over to someone's leashed dog.

Having a dog-friendly beach is an important asset to many people, but it is a privileged and not a right. With every attack and every off leash dog, the pressure to be more restrictive builds. If having a dog-friendly beach is important to you, then I encourage you to challenge anyone with an off-leash dog and ask them to control their dog for the sake of everyone, both dog owners and those who do not own dogs. The beach patrol can't be everywhere on our seven-mile-long island. The best way to keep our beach dog-friendly is for dog owners to be beach-friendly.

--Bill Veach is a beachfront home owner on Fort Myers Beach. He is also chairman of the Marine Resources Task Force and a member of the Public Safety Committee for the Town of Fort Myers Beach.



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