John Sawyer receives a smooch from Charlie while relaxing on the dog-friendly beach at the Russell-Fields City Pier with Linda Sawyer and Oreo on Monday in Panama City Beach. “This was the dogs’ first time at the beach,” Sawyer said. “They’re having fun. Beats walking around the neighborhood; that’s for sure.”
Heather Leiphart | The News Herald
I am neither a dog owner nor a resident.
I've been following the local versus non-local dog debates.
It seems to me that the focus has been on the wrong area. There are responsible visitors and irresponsible residents. I have friends that visit here for two months and are scrupulous about bagging and removing waste from their dogs.
The owners of the home next to us never police their yard. They have the cleaning staff do it after their visits. I assume that if they don't bother to clean up their own property, they don't bag waste anywhere else. I think the crux of the problem is people not cleaning up after their dogs, period. Leave out the distraction of residents versus non-residents.
The process of getting dog tags should be made more accessible and better publicized. More tags would be bought leading to more funds to address the real problem — cleaning the beaches of undesired dog “reminders.” Set the fees at a reasonable rate for all. Few people visiting for a week are going to spend $70 for a tag, responsible owners or not. Good owners are simply not going to get the tag but will continue to clean up.
As for getting the tags, I don't know how the process works now, but I have never noticed a place selling them. Perhaps a push by the Chamber of Commerce would persuade business owners to have a supply of the tags easily purchased. Publix, Winn-Dixie, CVS, Walgreens, restaurants, shops near the beaches — all places visitors go often.
It wouldn't have to be a laborious task for the participating businesses. Just have the tags advertised by a few well-placed signs, and give a tag in exchange for the fee. Dog owners should not have to fill out a form.
If simply having tags now is not enforced, who is going to bother checking to see if the tag belongs on a Maltese or a mutt?
I've even thought about the dog tag design. Maybe they could develop something in a bright color with a pup sitting in a sling chair, drink in hand? Make it colorful and cute, and people will buy them. Maybe, a different design every year. Make them collectable; a nice souvenir from the beach.
As for the funds collected, use the bulk of it for ridding the beach of “evidence,” as my mother used to say. Have the people doing this carry a supply of tags to facilitate enforcement.
I love the beautiful beaches we have called our winter home for the last seven years. I also love dogs. Both should be able to co-exist.