Leash Law Before Clearwater Council
By Anne McKay Garris
At tonight's Clearwater City Council meeting there will be a first hearing of a recently authorized law, requiring dogs on North Clearwater Beach to be on a leash. The Council instructed staff to draft the ordinance in response to well-researched information from the Audubon Society, which demonstrated that sea birds nesting on the beach and in the dunes, were disturbed and dispersed by the presence of dogs, either on the leash, or running free.
Partly because North Clearwater Beach is the only beach in Pinellas County where dogs are allowed at all, there has recently been a large increase in the number running on the beach in that community. Also, because of the isolated location of North Clearwater Beach, it is one of the last secure places where birds have been nesting undisturbed.
Drafting of the law was complicated by the perennial question of "who owns the beach" on North Clearwater Beach where private residences line the beach. The only way a dog can get on to the beach is either from the yard of a private residence, or across a public access where "no dogs allowed" is clearly posted and all dogs, on, or off of leashes are illegal. At the Council's Monday morning work session, it was determined that any dogs brought on to the beach by way of one of the public access areas have been illegal for a long time because dogs are not allowed on any public access.
The vote tonight is the first of two required before the ordinance becomes effective.
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