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Dogs could be banned from some South County beaches, thanks to irresponsible owners

Dogs play in the surf at Avila Beach. The harbor district is reconsidering its rules for dogs on beaches after several complaints have surfaced regarding pet behavior on the beaches.
Dogs play in the surf at Avila Beach. The harbor district is reconsidering its rules for dogs on beaches after several complaints have surfaced regarding pet behavior on the beaches. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

»» Update: Beach-loving dog owners can breathe a temporary sigh of relief

Those summer-day jaunts to the beach with man’s best friend may not be allowed much longer at some South County beaches.

The Port San Luis Harbor District is considering whether it wants to designate some of its beaches as “dog-free” or add restrictions on when dogs can be allowed on the beach, following complaints regarding irresponsible dog owners.

Harbor manager Andrea Lueker said Wednesday that the district is beginning “very preliminary talks” to consider regulations at Olde Port, Fishermans and Lighthouse beaches, all of which allow unleashed dogs on the beaches at all times. Avila Beach, which is also in the Harbor District, prohibits dogs on the beach between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The district commissioners are likely to consider in coming months whether they would designate some beaches dog-free, add hourly restrictions or require dogs to be leashed at certain times.

According to Lueker, the discussions comes after numerous complaints from beachgoers in recent months regarding dogs and dog owner behavior.

“It’s come up again in recent months, concerns on what you can do at what beach,” she said, noting the district had begun considering extra regulations sometime last year before abandoning them as other more pressing issues came up.

A district staff report lists some of the complaints at each of the beaches, namely dog owners leaving behind used “Mutt Mitts” — dog waste bags — on beach structures like benches and lifeguard towers or the ground. Others complained that owners don’t pick up after their animals at all.

District staff also expressed worries that the increasing popularity of some of the smaller beaches in the district could boost the risk for negative altercations with unleashed dogs.

“While the majority of dog owners are responsible, those who are not impact the beach experience for others,” the report says.

The district’s property committee will consider the issue at its meeting Thursday morning and make a recommendation to the district harbor commissioners.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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