Walton County beaches: No visiting dogs allowed

Published: Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 04:38 PM.

Permits for residents' dogs are $30 a year. And the only exception to the resident permit rule is if the dog on the beach belongs to a beach-front property owner who is with the dog on their own property, said County Commissioner Cindy Meadows.

The measure can be perplexing to residents and visitors as dogs are forbidden on the beach outright in neighboring Destin and Panama City. A recent proposal to allow South Walton visitors to purchase beach permits for their dogs also added to the confusion. But that measure was scuttled after residents objected at a number of meetings.

In response to a heightened level of complaints about dogs on the beach, the Tourist Development Council hired two Code Enforcement Officers last year whose job is exclusively to patrol the beach.

Sutcliffe acknowledges that locals are the worst offenders.

"They don't obey the leash law. They seem to have an attitude of entitlement. I see officers patrolling, but nothing changes,” she said. “We have the extra money to enforce it now since the TDC is responsible for expenditures. We should pay the piper.”

It's an important issue. The beach is why we moved and visited here. But it's not a priority with a lot of people."

Sutcliffe is a dog owner, but doesn’t bring her dog to beach because she worries about other people’s animals. To her, the issue boils down to enforcement.

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