Off Leash and Facing Fines

East Hampton Village police have been issuing summonses almost every day this season to beachgoers who let their dogs roam in restricted areas. Dogs are required to be kept on leashes while within 300 feet of parking lots and at the end of roads, no matter what the time of day.

The law took effect in May 2013, but in its first two years officers mostly issued warnings. This year, they are ticketing, with resulting fines, and that led to testy exchanges with at least two dog owners last week.

On Saturday evening at Wiborg’s Beach, after observing “a brownish dog running around the beach unleashed within the proper markings,” an officer ticketed the dog’s owner, a Bethesda, Md., woman, who “became very upset,” according to his report.

“How do you live like this,” he quoted her as saying. “You are not a people person. You should not be a cop.”

“I am not from here,” she continued. “How am I supposed to know?” The officer told her she should direct her complaints to his supervisors.

The standard fine for an unleashed dog on a restricted beach is $150, according to the clerk’s office at East Hampton Town Justice Court. The police do not release the names of those ticketed.

The other irate beachgoer was a Brooklyn man on Egypt Beach Saturday morning. According to the report, the man was playing fetch with his dog, hitting a tennis ball with a racket. The dog was wearing a leash, but was not under the control of its owner, an officer reported.

While the officer was writing out a summons, the man demanded that he document the fact that a sign on the beach states only “‘Must be leashed,’ not ‘must be controlled.’ ”

He will have his day in court to make that argument, if he so chooses, on Aug. 7.

One man who did appear at court hoping to make his case this week was Ned Rifkin, the former director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Mr. Rifkin spoke briefly yesterday before leaving for SUNY Purchase College in Westchester County, where he will begin teaching this fall. He received a ticket for an unleashed dog, an indeterminate breed “with some Jack Russell,” on Two Mile Hollow Beach in May, he said. It was after 6 p.m., and he and his girlfriend let the dog off the leash as they had in the past, not knowing, he said, that the rules had changed since the last time they were there.

At Justice Court, Brian Lester, a prosecuting lawyer for the village, told Mr. Rifkin he had two options: plead guilty and pay a $100 fine, or go to trial, where the fine would be $250 if found guilty.

He pleaded guilty. “I didn’t want to use up valuable time and resources,” he said, both for himself and the village. “But zero tolerance makes no sense.”

Now, he and his girlfriend take their dog to Atlantic Beach in Amagansett. On town beaches, as opposed to those in the village, dogs can run free after lifeguard hours.