I think it's time to revisit the subject of too many visitors bringing dogs on vacation.
It is getting out of hand and it seems no one abides by the rules when it comes to renting to vacationers. There is an ordinance on the books that specifically says no dogs on the beach in Walton County without a permit and only during certain hours.
It also states you cannot obtain a permit unless you are a full time resident here. It's a joke! Every day there are numerous dogs on the beaches with their owners who are not abiding by the rules, and most of them are from out of state.
Just yesterday we witnessed a Walton County patrol driving down the beach, and when he thought he spotted a dog he turned around and drove back by. He pulled up next to the owner and the owner carried the dog off the beach. Shortly after that my husband was walking down the beach and spotted more dogs on the public beach area at Pompano Joe’s.
These were all big dogs much more than 60-70 pounds and one lab broke from his owner and went after a child knocking her down and scaring her to death. I could hear her screaming from where I was. A child that was sitting with his mother next to us had an ugly scarring on his little cheek next to his mouth and his mother commented that it was from a dog bite. This child is scarred for life.
I also witnessed a couple with two large pit bulls walking on the bike path just inside Okaloosa County on Scenic 98.
My question is what is it going to take to get the proper authorities to enforce the laws that are already on the books and put a stop to people that bring two, three and four very large dogs on vacation? Is it going to take a child getting torn apart or killed by one before it is stopped and before owners stop renting to people that bring their dogs? Is it going to become an ever-increasing problem for those that want to have a nice vacation without the worry of dogs?
I am not a dog hater. I have grand dogs and a great grand dog, that I love dearly and one is a very sweet chocolate lab, but he is huge and I won't let them bring him anymore when they vacation at my house, because he has just gotten too big. The one time we had him here I called about a permit so we could let him run late in the afternoon on his long retractable leash and was told we couldn't get one because "they" weren't residents.
It is getting to be a problem more and more every day. I have never seen it this bad in the 30 years I've been around here. I think it is time for owners that rent to vacationers to be fined for not abiding by the rules and laws. They have a responsibility to inform renters that visitors’ dogs aren't allowed on the beach, at all, at any time. If they can't take them to the beach then maybe they will not bring them.
A weight limit should also be a priority in all vacation rentals and that would help some. Most vacationers won't pick up after their pets either because they figure it isn't their house or condo and they are paying for a vacation so why bother — just let the rental company, cleaners and the owners worry about the mess.
Nancy C Gravitt is a part-time Braselton, Ga. and local resident.