Editorial: Fine Doesn't Fit The Violation For Dogs On Beach

By / Editorials / الثلاثاء, 07 أيار 2019 15:34

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

In 2017 the Carolina Beach Town Council adopted new rules that were supposed eased restrictions prohibiting dogs on the beach from April 1st to September 30th. They changed the rules to allow dogs on the beach before 9am and after 5pm, on a leash. Prior to that, you could only walk your dog on the beach, on a leash, from October 1st, to March 31st.

What seemed like a positive move by the Council to permit people to walk their dogs on the beach in the mornings and afternoons during the summer turned out to be a nightmare for people who got smacked with a $250 fine for having Rover out there on a leash at 9:10am in the morning.

In 2018, the Town decided $250 was too high and reduced it to $100.

Rules are rules and when someone blatantly violates a rule, there should certainly be an appropriate consequence in the form of a fine.

A parking ticket in Carolina Beach is a way to encourage people to adhere to the rules and a ticket is $30.

Sure, everyone hates getting a parking ticket, but $30 will help people to remember next time to pay the meter or just not come back and avoid the hassle.

In this case there are a number of reasons why people may be unaware of the rules governing dogs on the beach during the summer months.

Unlike parking meters where people know they risk getting a ticket because the rules are front and center and common in most Towns, that's not the case for rules governing dogs on the beach.

If you use a public beach access you may notice the signs stating the rules. Of course, if you're on vacation, who reads signs when they've got kids, umbrellas and Rover all headed to the beach?

What if you rent one of the many oceanfront condos or houses along the beach front and use a private beach access where there are no signs advertising the Town's rules and fines? You head out for a stroll on the beach with your dog and get a ticket for $100.

That amount isn't a fine designed to encourage people to learn the rules and adhere to them in the future. It's egregious and quite frankly a disgusting way to treat tourists. The punishment doesn't fit the violation.

The routine should be to issue a warning and if a person doesn't comply, then write them a ticket. Encourage compliance before breaking out the ticket book.

One appeal letter I read in 2017 involved a Marine on holiday who was confronted by an officer who informed him of the rules and directed him to a beach where they could have their dog by their side. While he was complying and packing up to leave, the officer began writing a ticket for a violation. The man reported that other beachgoers in the area asked the officer to be lenient.

In that case, the Marine and those lounging nearby on the beach all left with a less than favorable opinion of our Town.

The Town has begun writing citations for the 2019 season and already one person has appealed a citation because they were staying at a vacation rental on the beach front, used a private beach access where no signs are posted and they were cited for breaking the rules.

The Town needs a more appropriate, fair fine following a first offense warning.

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