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Beaches have gone to the dogs

By Staff | Nov 4, 2009

To the editor,

Despite the efforts of the city and the police, just about every day there are unleashed dogs on the beach between Bowman’s and Blind Pass. The dog owners are not only unknowing visitors but also longtime residents who encourage their dogs to run free.

I would rather see a large variety of birds than see dogs on the beach. Sanibel is one of the very few beaches in the country that allows dogs at all on the beach. The dog owners who refuse to obey the leash law may spoil it for all dog owners if this continues.

The City supplied laminated leash law brochures to be posted in all lodging units. But it has come to my attention the resort at the west end of the island did not post it, and often do not even inform their dog owner clients that they will be subject to a fine by the city if seen with a dog unleashed. Others are “day-trippers” who plead ignorance, although the signage is clear at the parking facilities. These people are likely the ones who park at alternate locations and do not pay the parking fee. There are several long time residents who take their dogs to the beach to ‘run.’ These are the worst offenders.

Sanibel is one of the very few beaches in Florida – and in the country – who allow dogs at all. Birds are now migrating, some of them fly literally for days non-stop and visit Sanibel for rest and food before traveling on to their winter destination. Sanibel cannot attract birds if dogs are running on the beach. Spring and summer can bring the nesting shore birds… but not if dogs are running on the beach. The widened beach at Blind Pass is ideal to attract nesting Least Terns and Wilson’s Plowers this coming season, but not if the dogs are running on the beach. It is against the law.

Please help protect Sanibel’s wild bird life: if you see a dog unleashed (by law, the leash should be not longer than eight feet), call 472-3111 so the police can enforce the leach law and keep Sanibel “Sanibel” for all to enjoy. Let’s bring the nesting birds back.

Stan Kwiecien