With warming weather enticing residents back to the beach, many of them, despite ordinances to the contrary, seem to want to bring their dogs with them; both to the beach and the pier.
Although city officials briefly discussed the problems of dogs on the beach (and the pier) at their recent workshop, the problem seems to be a “bit of a challenge,” according to Ted Stevens, manager of Long Beach Animal Care Services.
Stevens said he will present new ideas about beach and pier enforcement to the City Council next week.
Stevens is responsible for enforcing the provisions of an agreement between Long Beach and Seal Beach regarding animal control ordinances and other issues related to animal care.
Under the agreement, his office must provide at least three hours of service per day in Seal Beach, therefore, any beach patrols must be squeezed into his list of other duties.
Nevertheless, Stevens says his officers do their best to patrol the beaches in Seal Beach and Long Beach. “It’s a problem in both places,” said Stevens.
Commander Steve Bowles of the Seal Beach Police Department said it is against the law to bring non-service animals to the beach, but that the police department coordinates enforcement with Stevens, whose contract gives his office the principal enforcement responsibility.
“It’s a constant battle,” said Stevens, saying dog owners generally find a way to either avoid the enforcement officials or simply run from them once spotted.
Responsible dog owners who want to take their pets to the beach with them can legally do so in either Huntington Beach or Long Beach, each of which have a dedicated stretch of beach earmarked for dogs. Seal Beach does not have a dog beach but has a wonderful dog park, he said.
In the summer, Stevens said there are “hundreds of dogs” in those areas, although not all dog owners are so respectful of local ordinances and dogs are found throughout Seal Beach and Long Beach. Regarding dogs that are allowed to defecate on the beach and their owners don’t pick it up, “it’s not an easy thing to enforce. Unless you see the dog and the owner not pick it up,” it’s nearly impossible to catch an offender.
Stevens said the problem of dog owners who do not responsibly clean up their dog’s output is not relegated to the beach. “It happens everywhere,” but is especially horrid on the beach “because you can’t see it until it’s too late.”
“Really,” he said, “it’s up to the animal owners to clean up after their pets.” Stevens said his officers cited dozens of vio
lators last year, but with miles of beaches and limited enforcement resources, don’t look for the problem to go away anytime soon. “It’s the same problem year after year, and it’s quite a challenge,” he said.