After several weeks of deliberation, East Hampton Village officials are poised to further limit dogs on the ocean beaches between Georgica and Two Mile Hollow. At a recent meeting, the village board scheduled an April 19 hearing on a code amendment that would require people who bring dogs to the beach to keep them on leashes until they are at least 500 feet from the road-ends and parking lots during the hours when pets are allowed on the sand. The East Hampton Town Trustees, who technically govern the beaches between Wainscott and the western boundary of Montauk, were to have discussed the village’s proposal on Tuesday.
At one point this winter, the village seemed likely to enact stricter measures, including further limiting the hours when dogs were permitted. Under the code as it stands, dogs and other animals cannot be on the beach between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. from mid-May through September. Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. was said to have briefly favored keeping dogs away until 8 p.m. in the summer months to protect evening picnickers from their nosy intrusions. However, the new leash law would accomplish the same objective.
Keeping dogs under control and close to their owners is also likely to cut down on the feces left behind, either willfully by those who walk them or because dogs were out of sight when nature called. Also important is that the new restriction will reduce the chances that loose dogs could bound over to say hello to someone deathly afraid of them or even leap up on someone, an older person perhaps, without sound footing.
For the time being, the leash rule would appear to satisfy both dog owners’ wishes to be able to take their charges to the beach and the desire of others not to have their sunbathing or lunchtime reveries interrupted. The measure deserves support, with the caveat that enforcement will be the key.