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Lifeguards Reverse Dog Restriction at San Onofre State Beach

After a month of hearing concerns from beach-goers who objected to a proposed ban on dogs at San Onofre State Beach, lifeguards said this week that they will not be closing the popular dog beach this summer after all.

At issue is a 1-mile stretch of sand at the base of Trail 5, south of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. The area has been a haven for pets and their owners for 25 years.

In April, however, state lifeguards announced that they would close the area to dogs from Memorial Day to Labor Day because of a recent proliferation of pets, dog droppings and other problems, such as owners who refused to keep their pets on leashes.

But after hearing from dog owners and completing a survey of beach-goers at San Onofre, the lifeguards changed their minds. In the survey, they found that 85% of the respondents said they were completely satisfied with sharing the beach with dogs.

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“We found that people are willing to tolerate and coexist with one another’s dogs,” lifeguard supervisor Steve Long said. “People feel that there’s ample beach for everyone, and if they want to avoid dogs, they can go elsewhere on the beach.”

Lifeguards say they will still keep an eye out for law-flouting pet owners, but that won’t be their first priority.

“Our first and foremost responsibility is to the people in the water,” Long said.

Lifeguards will be implementing a public awareness program to educate beach-goers.

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“We’re asking dog owners to please be responsible for their pets,” Long said. “Clean up after them, keep them on a leash.”


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