Chloe Ceshker has never made a big splash at the beach.
Her owner, George Ceshker, describes her as a “frou frou” dog who is usually more likely to savor the beach smells rather than roll around in the sand and water. But Chloe, like some of the other Key’s canine citizens, would like her day at the beach. The Longboat Key Town Commission will discuss the issue at its regular workshop meeting Thursday, Oct. 20. The commission will discuss a suggestion first proposed by residents Nelson and Laurin Goldner to give dogs limited access to part of the beach.
In a July email to commissioners, the Goldners, whose Wheaton terrier, Max, enjoys the beach during his summers on Long Island, N.Y., suggested a trial period for a portion of the beach — one that could possibly extend from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m., allowing the beach to remain dog-free during the day and would allow dog owners to prove that they’re willing to clean up after their pets.
“Most people feel that their dogs are integral parts of their family, and their social and physical needs are important to everyone in the family,” they wrote at the time.
The proposals sent tongues wagging.
Larry Grossman worried about the impact dogs could have on local wildlife, especially turtles and seabirds. Grossman, a Longboat Key Turtle Watch volunteer, wrote about witnessing a mother turtle becoming distracted by seabirds flying overhead and nearly heading for the street before turning back to the ocean.
“ … the beach habitat is fraught with sufficient dangers without introducing another source in the form of dogs on the beach,” he wrote in an email to Vice Mayor David Brenner.
Many other residents wrote of the possibility of attacks and of sanitary concerns.
Jackie Salvino and her Havanese dogs, Kirby and Tia, were interviewed on TV in support of the idea. And Ed Adams wrote in a Longboat Observer guest opinion column that his dachshund, Red, liked the proposal.
“Red greets the news with tail-wagging glee,” he wrote. “He’s fed up with the discrimination that dogs face.”
Laurin Goldner, who plans to speak on Max’s behalf at Thursday’s workshop and said that approximately 20 other residents plan to attend in support of giving dogs a test run, is optimistic about a compromise.
“We’re glad to compromise to make it work. We don’t want to endanger any bird, any turtle, any baby or any dog,” she said. “But, hopefully, we’ll be able to find a spot on the beach and one day spend even just an hour on the beach with our dogs.”
According to Section 6, Chapter 92.04 of town codes:
“Pets, other than animals utilized for assisting persons with disabilities, are prohibited from all town parks, the public beach, any public beach access and Greer (Beer Can) Island Beach Park, the Sister Keys, town islands, White Key, Wake Island and Whale Key. Pets on a suitable, dependable lead or leash not longer than eight feet are allowed in the Joan M. Durante Community Park.”