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Opinion

Opinion: Do dogs belong on the beach? That depends on whether you own one

Some beaches along the Southern California coastline allow dogs. Most of them do not.
Some beaches along the Southern California coastline allow dogs. Most of them do not.
(Christina House)

Pro tip to prospective opinion writers: If you want to elicit a strong response, write about pets. Especially if you suggest that there are places they should not go.

Marie Myung-Ok Lee’s Aug. 13 column urging readers not to bring their dogs to the beach drew comments from more than a dozen readers, with dog owners largely taking issue and the rest calling for tougher enforcement of the ban on pets at the ocean. Some dog owners suggested that Lee’s autistic son, who fears the animals, might benefit from more contact with compassionate canines. And some of the owners sympathetic with Lee’s position offered an excuse for the widespread disregard for the ban: There are no beaches near Los Angeles that allow dog owners to frolic with their pooches.

Here is a sampling of the reactions.

Dr. Mark Hoffer of Long Beach explained the rationale behind the ban:
It is not just because of dog bites! Dog hair and even the remains of feces picked up from the ground contain parasitic eggs, which may be dangerous for human beings. In some climates these include hookworms and roundworms that may penetrate the skin in barefoot walking on the beach or in a park. The most serious has been known to migrate to the eyes of youngsters and cause blindness.

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Karen Rose of Los Angeles wouldn’t stop with beaches:
Don’t take Bowser to the beach, or the supermarket, or the store, or the library, or the restaurant (unless outside area is available). I don’t want to buy food that your dog has sniffed or left hair on or lifted his leg on.

People with allergies are affected by what your dog leaves behind. There are laws for a reason and you don’t get to pick and choose which ones you follow. Stop being selfish!

But the city is to blame too, writes L.A. resident Charles Axilbund:
While I commiserate with Ms. Lee and her son, and deplore the behavior of the dog owners she mentions in her article, the problem lies with the city of Los Angeles. With over 70 miles of coastline between Malibu and Long Beach, there is not a single designated dog beach.

The beaches are meant to serve everyone. Ms. Lee and her son deserve to have a dog-free beach, but at the same time, the many dog owners of Los Angeles deserve to have an area where they can exercise and swim their dogs.

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As is our culture, according to David Sears of Playa del Rey:
A dog on the beach is only one of many common offenses, including falsely claiming a pet is a “service animal” to justify its entrance to a restaurant or museum, blowing through stop signs and red lights or using turn-only lanes as passing lanes, and using cellphones in theaters, to name just a few. These behaviors are evidence of the selfishness, lack of empathy and sense of entitlement that permeate today’s culture.

Giuseppe Mirelli of Los Angeles seconds that notion:
Why would they comply with laws banning dogs on beaches? Apparently they’re never cited. After all, these might be the same people who drive around without registered license plates, or severely tinted front windows, or fraudulently obtained handicap placards ad infinitum. These laws are constantly violated, but the lawbreakers are rarely cited; ergo, we have dogs frolicking on the beach, and without a leash — which is a separate violation — but who’s counting?

But dog owners like Sandra Dannenbaum of Venice pushed back:
Venice is one of the most if not the most dogcentric cities in the country. In the past, ordinances concerning dogs on the beach were usually enforced. But with all that we have to put up with here — the homeless, the meth addicts, the tourists, the illegal vendors, the gentrification, the AirBnBs, the thieves, traffic — it’s good that the powers have cut us some slack.

Not every dog person takes their dog to the sand. It’s dirty, flea-ridden and hot. There are groups of neighbors and their dogs who meet on the grass at sunset. It builds community.

Steve Baker of Los Angeles suggested a middle ground:
It’s OK to have a law where dogs are banned from the beach in Los Angeles as long as that law isn’t enforced except for situations where it should be enforced. Mean people with mean dogs. Otherwise: Dogs love the beach and they make it a much more entertaining place to be.

Children and dogs on the beach are the most fun things to watch. Keep it that way.

And Gary Dolgin of Santa Monica suggests the author focused on the wrong beach nuisance:
I live at the mouth of Santa Monica Canyon, just across Pacific Coast Highway from Will Rogers State Beach. However, when I beachcomb with my dog Kimo, it’s on a private stretch in southern Malibu where the residents jog and walk their own dogs. A harmonious peaceful stroll.

I avoid what’s in my front yard not because I don’t have contempt for the policy, but because of my familiarity with human beach visitors, some of whom ought to be leashed.


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