One of my assignments last month was to take pictures at an East Hampton Village Board meeting on the issue of solidifying a more modern approach to the vastly important international issue of Dogs on the Beach.
One man spoke at length concerning forming a 2,000-strong organization directed toward “education” and “behavior” of both dogs and dog owners on the beach. He seemed to view it as a social activity, socializing with other dog owners at the beach, like in Central Park, but the beaches of this far-flung village are not Central Park.
As I see it, the main problem with dogs on the beach is that 8 a.m., every day of the week, is not an appropriate time to bring your dog to Wiborg’s Beach to go to the bathroom. Simple solution: Have your dog go to the bathroom in your own yard or in proximity, then bring it to the beach.
It is so funny, these intrepid four-legged creatures running amok with tennis balls in their mouths, sticks too, rolling around like nuts on the occasional dead seagull. Perfect time to go lick one of the terrified tourists who thinks dogs should be leashed, trained by expensive trainers, and act like well-bred cats.
Some people want the police to get more involved and want uniformed officers to go to the beach and ticket errant dog owners. I think a policeman in uniform chasing a dog owner around the beach is ridiculous, unless someone has been attacked or injured. East Hampton Town has an entire division known as animal control.
Another woman at the meeting suggested a fine of $500 for failing to clean up after your dog. The fine should be $20, and warnings should be the standard protocol.
Why doesn’t everyone just take a week off from taking their dogs to the beach? Problem solved. We will call it Dogs Off the Beach Week. One week a month, all your Facebook friends and Twitter and Instagram followers could be invited to Dogs Off the Beach Week. There could be a benefit to raise money for the Dogs Off the Beach Campaign.
East Hampton Village has a long history with dogs. There has always been a big unruly yet beloved dog roaming the village, always. In 1969 there was Sheba, owned by the Barnes family. Sheba was so big she took up half of the sidewalk, and once she mistakenly knocked down two elderly ladies on Main Street. It was a village scandal, and we children went wild for the whole event. Thank God no one was injured.
Sheba was always accompanied by Brandy, her faithful male cohort, also a dog, and never leashed, but after becoming senile and snapping at little kids, Brandy eventually was leashed.
The mayor’s concept of leashing dogs upon entering the beach is not a bad idea, but why not make it voluntary? Why not have all the restrictions be voluntary? The people cannot be trusted? At the same time we should also not have to spend our days engaging individuals not in favor of dogs on the beach. When we bring our dogs to the beach, we seek solitude from the incessant battle of managing a family house and trying to keep pace with the fast-talking Range Rover crowd.
I did meet a young woman sitting at Georgica Beach last summer with a rather well-mannered dog. I mentioned that the scooter person was going to show up and ask her to remove the dog from the beach. It was a wonderful day in July. She explained to me that the dog was a trained emotional support animal and that she had definitive proof allowing her to keep the dog on the beach with her. I was impressed with her explanation. The modern world had apparently taken its toll.
In conclusion, there is no conclusion. Violent revolutions are taking place around the globe. Perhaps our American sense of entitlement here has stepped beyond the boundaries of reality when we follow our neighbors around reporting them to the police when they have a dog on the beach after 9 a.m. in the summer months.
People who walk around the local beaches following people walking on the beaches with their dogs should be ticketed. I am not certain who would give the ticket. We the people could always find someone for that. We could call that person People Dog Ticket Follower Executive for Eastern Long Island Towns, and the position could be advertised in the employment section of The East Hampton Star.
Morgan McGivern is a staff photographer at The Star. He owns a tri-colored corgi named Flint.