APRIL FOOLS: A win for pet owners comes at the expense of those who wish to prohibit dog presence on public beaches.
APRIL FOOLS -- After years of a well-recognized but occasionally followed dog ban on Siesta Key Beach, law enforcement officials have been told that a longstanding — albeit confusing — state statute counteracts the otherwise decades-old local tradition.
And it took a fan of TV’s “Siesta Key” to decipher the dusty Florida statute, buried within decades of re-written, stricken, and re-written legalese.
Archie Andrews, a first year law student at Florida State University, spotted what he immediately surmised was a violation of the law while watching an episode of the MTV reality series.
“This girl, Kelsey maybe, was running and jumping on the beach with this totally cool dog, and I knew that couldn’t be kosher with the local laws, ordinances and whatnot,’’ he said. “So I was going to call it in to the local State Attorney for proper prosecution, but figured I’d better know what I was talking about.’’
What Andrews found astonished him.
Section 1014.18(3) of Florida State Statute Chapter XLVIIII reads in part: “...regarding household pets legally owned, registered or otherwise co-habitating with a legal resident of the Great State of Florida shall not be disallowed in a non-prohibitive manner to accompany said owner in endeavours not barred by otherwise legal portends herewith.’’
Andrews said he got extra credit with his torts professor for figuring out that pets are actually allowed, rendering the popular stretch the county’s largest dog park.
Until now, health and bird concerns drove the “no dogs allowed” regulation on Siesta Key’s previously white sand beach.
And while some residents are all but wagging their tails at the idea of bringing their furry friends out with them again, others are left aghast at the open-ended use of the word “pet” in the statute.
“Forget dogs, what other animals will people feel entitled to bring onto the beach with them?”
“Forget dogs, what other animals will people feel entitled to bring onto the beach with them?” part-time resident Harry Growling said. “I’ve heard that some people in the state even farm peacocks. Can you imagine a peacock on our beach? This is opening the door to madness!”
Others, however, see the relaxed regulation as an opportunity for local businesses to thrive.
“You know, I think I’m going to open my own leash kiosk on the beach,” said another local resident and entrepreneur, Collie Canis. “Short leashes for small dogs, longer ones for big dogs.”
Following the announcement, many residents decided to petition for a greater sense of control over the expanse of public beach.
But it may not be that simple.
In response, the Siesta Key Pet Coalition has announced it will be hosting regular seminars on proper public etiquette for pets starting Monday, April 1.
“We understand that pet behavior is going to be a major concern for a lot of people who are out on the beach with their friends and families,” SKPC spokesperson Birdie Shepherd wrote in a release. “And we’re just paw-sitively excited to help you help your pets.”