Members of the Seaside Heights borough council said it is unlikely that the town will continue practice of allowing dogs on the boardwalk in the off-season.
And, as one could surmise, it’s not the fault of man’s best friend.
“I was one of the ones who pushed for that because I’m a dog person, but it’s gotten out of hand,” said Councilman Louis DiGuilio. “People are not picking after their dogs and it’s getting disgusting out there.”
Perhaps even worse than the physical droppings left on the boards has been the behavior of some owners, officials said. When asked to pick up their dog’s excrement by other boardwalk visitors or even police officers, owners have become hostile.
“The people who are getting caught are causing so much trouble the police are having to get involved,” said DiGuilio.
There has also been a marked increase in dog droppings on the beach. One person was even seen tossing his dog’s excrement into the ocean.
“It’s gotten way out of hand and it’s creating a big mess on the boardwalk and the beach,” said Councilman Richard Tompkins.
“It’s a disgrace to read the Facebook posts about our beach and the boardwalk,” he said. “We’re trying to bring people to our town.”
The pilot program was suggested by DiGuilio, who is a dog lover. Many other towns allow dogs on their beaches and walkways during the winter season, and allowing dog owners to bring their pets with them was initially seen as a fun way to attract people to the boards off-season and enjoy some fresh air with their four-legged friends. It was even suggested at one point to allow dogs on the boardwalk year-round, but that proposal was met with significant opposition by residents and never materialized. But as far as the off-season is concerned, some have likely ruined it for all – the allowance of dogs on the boardwalk is likely to be repealed by next fall, if the indications from the borough council are correct.
“They’re a problem all over town, and if you say something to the people they can become really angry and nasty,” said Councilwoman Agnes Polhemus.
In the past, people have pushed the existing allowance to its limit, officials have conceded.
“People were telling us that since they were pushing their dog in a carriage, they technically weren’t walking their dog on the beach,” Mayor Anthony Vaz said when the measure to allow dogs year-round was considered.
Under the borough’s current ordinance, dogs are allowed on the boardwalk between Oct. 1 through the Palm Sunday holiday each year.