By / Letters to the Editor / Tuesday, 16 January 2018 05:00

It was heartwarming to read the news of Lake Waacamaw Police Chief’s heroic rescue of a dog stranded on a frozen lake this week.  But it was quite a contrast to another dog rescue attempt on Sunday, Jan 5, in Kure Beach when a neighbor’s newly adopted, skittish dog escaped from her leash.  
I also joined the owner and her friend in attempts to catch Goldie in the frigid temps.  Goldie later ran into the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (SP) buffer zone land behind the Kure Beach Fire Department.  
Her owner and I followed Goldie down the fire lane while her friend parked his car along the Dow Road shoulder to intercept Goldie if she came out the other side.
We were distraught, freezing, and worried for Goldie knowing temps were expected in the teens overnight.
Then two officers with Sunny Point Military Police stopped on Dow Rd, approached them asking for ID, which the car owner had left at home in his haste to help catch Goldie.  
SP Officer Savage treated us obvious retirees like terrorists and showed zero concern for the dog.  The dog’s owner did return home to get her friend’s ID.  
Nevertheless, Office Savage still issued the vehicle’s owner tickets for trespassing and driving without a license (even though he never actually saw him drive the vehicle). Then the two officers got back in their warm truck and drove away leaving us unable to search for Goldie, robbing us of the last hour of daylight. I also contacted Kure Beach Police but learned they are not allowed to enter the land either.  Goldie’s owner later received phone authorization to enter, but by then it was too dark to search.   Heartbroken, we had to leave Goldie overnight to the elements, temperatures in the teens, and coyotes.
The next day I talked with SP Military Chief of Police Lahl about Office Savage’s treatment of us and his lack of any concern for the dog. In past years I had always received neighborly responses from SP command to residents’ concerns.  Thus I expected some regret, perhaps even an apology; instead he reiterated their procedures, how they were protecting our safety, etc.
As a resident of Kure Beach for over 20 years, I am well aware of the purpose of the buffer zone, and fully support the need for no trespassing regulations.  My home, in fact, backs up to the buffer zone which I appreciate also for the beauty, trees, wildlife, and environment.  
However, the ammo is across the river, this buffer zone on KB is just land.  Procedures should also include exceptions and extenuating circumstances. And perhaps Sunny Point in the future might consider teaching compassion and diplomacy along with their procedures.
Footnote:  Miraculously Goldie has since returned home; a happy ending to a nightmare.
Judy Larrick
Kure Beach, NC

Editor's Note: I reached out to Clarence G. Lahl III, Chief of Police for Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point to inquire about the situation and their policies. The following is the response from Mr. Lahl:

Mr Killough,
 Although I understand Ms. Larrick's passion for wanting to locate and help return a lost pet to its owner, Federally Restricted areas are not established lightly. The Federally Restricted Area known as the "Buffer Zone" on Pleasure Island exists for the safety of the public. As such and to avoid confusion, it is clearly marked as "Restricted" and "No Trespassing" approximately every 100 feet, so that a notification can be seen in two directions about every 50 feet along the perimeter.
The Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point maintains memorandums of agreement with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office, the Carolina Beach and the Kure Beach Police departments. When there are special circumstances which might require someone to enter the restricted area, those departments are able to coordinate those efforts and receive permission and or assistance in entering those areas. For the incident referenced by Ms. Larrick, the local police agency did not contact us to make any such coordination.  
Once the individuals were properly identified, and the circumstances were verified, the local police and the pet owner were granted permission to conduct the search for the lost pet. Much time and frustration can be avoided if the local authorities are contacted and coordinate their efforts with ours. We are all proud to be a part of the Cape Fear community and strive to be good stewards of both the requirements of our installation and the concerns of our neighbors. Additionally, we are also glad that Goldie is home safe and sound.
    Clarence G. Lahl III
    Chief of Police


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