Brevard Says No To Dogs On Beaches

By  //  August 16, 2019

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We have had news for any Brevard dog owners who had high hopes of taking their pet for an extended walk along the beach any time soon – the prospect of doing so is dead and buried after plans were uniformly rejected by Brevard County commissioners.

It had been hoped that the 11-mile stretch between Sebastian Inlet to Sandy Shoes Resort (within the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge) might be made available to responsible dog owners during the early morning and late evening.

It’s now clear that local officials have no appetite for allowing it to occur.

It had been thought that the plans were doomed regardless of the commission’s feelings on having dogs on the beach.

Just a few days before the proposal was due to be considered, an environmental group raised concerns that dog and dog walkers might disturb local sea turtle populations, and the point they raised appeared to be fair.

Baby sea turtles already struggle against the elements in the Brevard area anyway, and the presence of dogs digging up their nests would only serve to make matters worse.

In its complaint, the Sea Turtle Preservation Society noted that Cocoa Beach and Canova Park are already open to dogs, and so there’s nothing preventing local owners for walking their dogs along some local beaches if they’re willing to travel a little further to do it.

Baby sea turtles struggle against the elements in the Brevard area and the presence of dogs digging up their nests would only serve to make matters worse.

The proposal had been submitted by a resident of South Beaches, Donna Post, who had collected signatures by way of petition to support the proposal.

Under the proposal, all owners would have been required to keep dogs on a leash at all times, and liable for collecting any dog waste.

Additionally, any owner walking a dog on the beach would do so on the condition that their dog was healthy and vaccinated. Post hoped that these inclusions might be enough to sway the committee, but they were unmoved. They ultimately rejected the proposal without putting it to a vote.

Donna Post was unavailable for comment immediately after the decision had been made, but her husband John Post remained hopeful that a compromise can be reached.

He feels that the committee made ‘an emotional decision’ as opposed to one based on fact, and that new plans taking into account their concerns may be submitted.

He and his wife may look for permission to use a reduced area of the beach, or offer an agreement that the beach can’t be used by dog walkers during the nesting season of the sea turtles. 

Some of the comments made by the committee in the process of dismissing the proposal have attracted attention.

Kristine Isnardi, who is the County Commission Chair, said that she didn’t like any part of the proposal, and believed that allowing dogs anywhere near the beach was a health and safety issue no matter what provisions were put in place.

Going further, she added that there were “enough gross things” on the beaches of Brevard already and that the risk of dog waste would only serve to make things worse.

The issue of the Archie Carr Refuge is a little different to the majority of beaches.

It’s a protected beach. When that phrase is mentioned, people tend to imagine a picture-postcard beach of beautiful sand – the kind that appears in the background of the ‘Here Comes Summer’ mobile slots game, or the ‘Fluffy Too’ online slots.

We mention mobile slots because the decision of the committee suggests that they don’t want to gamble with the serenity of the area, but the golden beaches of the games you’ll find on mobile slots websites aren’t like Archie Carr Refuge.

It’s protected for a specific purpose: the sea turtles. The purity of the beach has nothing to do with it.

The Refuge was set up in 1991 in recognition that the sea turtles in the area were an endangered species, and that all reasonable measures should be taken in order to safeguard their survival.

Brevard County is home base to the UCF Marine Turtle Research Program, which studies the nesting behavior of sea turtles. The research program concentrates on turtles, which nest and lay eggs along the Archie Carr National Refuge. (UCF image)

It’s not just a refuge of local importance either – nowhere in the world is more important when it comes to loggerhead nesting, and even for the more common green sea turtle, it’s the most significant nesting area anywhere in the United States.

All of this means that there’s an obvious need to protect the beach from potential predators – including dogs – when the nesting season has begun or is in progress. Outside of those times, though, the need is less clear.

Isnardi wasn’t alone in having reservations about the beach becoming polluted by four-legged visitors. Several members of the public at the meeting also spoke to raise concerns along similar lines.

The themes presented including dog owners not being trusted to keep their pets on leads, dog owners failing to clean up after their pets, and waste ultimately becoming mixed with the sand and water and becoming a hazard.

Some residents also feared being attacked by out-of-control dogs.

On the internet, the proposal’s supporters have pointed out that a similar ban once applied to Cocoa Beach, and there have been no significant incidents since the ban was relaxed.

Also, cigarette ends and food wrappers are perceived to be a larger problem on beaches than anything left in the area by dogs.

Donna Post, her husband, and her supporters ultimately didn’t get their way on this occasion, but based on their response to the rejection, they’ll try again with another proposal. In the meantime, anybody who tries to take their dog for a walk on the Archie Carr National Wildlife Reserve will be in the dog house.

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