Who Let the Dog's Out?
Photo/Text by Donna Malloy
No and Go. Although the city signage prohibits dogs on Clearwater Beach, the dogs are only prohibited at the public swimming beaches.
Although some beach developers and homeowners claim their beach is private, all of Clearwater Beach, with the exception of the northernmost tip of Caladesi State Park, is zoned Open Space/Recreational (OS/R).
"Clearwater Beach is one contiguous strip of public beach" states Shane O'Neill, Clearwater's City Planner 1.
The city of Clearwater's Code of Ordinances, Chapter 22, Section 22.40, under Parks, beaches and recreation states: "All pets shall be excluded from all public beaches, public pools, and swimming areas abutting public beaches and parks."
"Clearwater Beach", according to Elizabeth Daly-Watts, Public Information Officer for the city of Clearwater, "has three public bathing beaches at Rock-a-Way, Pier 60 and South Gulfview." These three areas are the only areas that prohibit dogs on the beach. Otherwise, you can walk your dog on the remainder of Clearwater Beach's public beaches either "leashed" or under control by "voice command" stated Daly-Watts. The fine for an unleashed or uncontrolled dog is $88.00.
But the city's signage at most of Clearwater Beach's public access entrances sends a mixed message. Circled in red with a slash through it is a picture of a dog, as in NO, enforced by Chapter 22, C.O. #6563-00, printed at the bottom right hand side of the sign.
Perhaps City Code of Ordinance's Chapter 8, Section 8.35: Animals on Public Bathing Beaches Prohibited, explains it best:
"It shall be unlawful for the owner of any dog, cat or other domestic animal, to allow such animal to be, and it shall be unlawful for such animal to be on any public bathing beach in the city."
Then there's the sanitary issue. The city of Clearwater's Code of Ordinances, Chapter 22, Section 22.40, (4)Domestic animals, states: "The owners of animals or the persons having control over the animals shall remove all excrement deposited by their animals on park property, public beaches, and the Courtney Campbell Recreation Area."
Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, known as Dr. Beach, voted Caladesi Island State Park, "America's Best Beach" for 2008. Last year Caladesi Island State Park was ranked second on the "America's Best Beaches" list compiled by Dr. Beach.
Leatherman's criteria for a healthy beach include EPA water quality, beach cleanliness, safety, environmental quality, management and auxiliary services. Litter, under the beach cleanliness category, includes feces. The top ten beaches on Leatherman's list have a zero (0) feces count.
The National Healthy Beaches Campaign "promotes a balance between the recreational use of our nation's beaches and maintaining the environmental quality and safety of this prized resource." Let's continue to do our part to keep our beaches healthy and pleasurable.
Remember, every litter bit counts.
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