','subtitle>',$line); echo $line; $line = "\n"; } else if (strstr($line, '','updated>',$line); } else if (strstr($line, '','published>',$line); } else if (strstr($line, ' Impractical Proposals <br> Santa Monica: Dogs Gone

2004-12-09

Dogs Gone

Most troubling about the campaign to unleash dogs upon the beach in Santa Monica is its disingenuousness. To bolster her case, for example, Santa Monica Daily press columnist Carole Orlin cites the safety record of pet visitations at nursing homes and hospitals, while failing to mention that these programs are motivated by hoped-for therapeutic benefits and are limited to a very small number of carefully monitored animals in highly controlled environments that are cleaned by professional staffs and protected by extensive liability insurance.

Do we really want to worry about the risk from additional semi-curbed canines on our crowded strand? Statistics show that nearly 2% of the population is bitten by a dog each year, the great majority of and most severe bites and attacks being suffered by children under 12 years old. If the mutt mavens are successful in their designs, some personal injury attorney can save everybody a lot of time by opening a kiosk right at the beach. Along those lines, I have a question: given the inevitability of dog bites if a large number of animals is introduced into a crowded venue, especially one heavily populated by casually supervised children (and with full appreciation that most severe dog attacks involve kids), won't the city and state governments be on the hook for potentially millions of dineros in damages if they knowingly create an inherently unsafe situation? Just asking.

Orlin also anecdotally points to her experience at the "completely open and dog friendly beach" in Carmel, from whence she returned "amazed at how beautiful and clean it was." Well, maybe. I remember the Carmel beach as sparsely attended, certainly when compared to ours, which is as heavily trafficked as Times Square. Closer to home, I myself am "amazed" at the amount of dog-tritus already at the beach, especially on the sidewalks and bike path where dog owners can't fall back on the excuse that they lost it in the dunes.

Speaking of the sidewalks and bike path, isn't it also disingenuous to describe the off-leash proposal as being limited to "a 1/10-mile area of beach?" How are the pups going to get there? Dropped by helicopter? Catapulted from the palisades? No, they're going to walk there, depositing packages in the sand and on the byways as they go. And how are the animals going to be confined to the off-leash zone? Do the dogafiles propose barricading the beach at each end of the dog pound with fences? And, by the way, 1/10 of a mile doesn't sound like much, but if the fenced-in area extends from the street to the water line, what's being discussed is privatizing 50-60 acres of public beach.

The most disingenuous argument of the dog people Orlin puts this way: "Dog owners appear to want the same access to recreational opportunities as do tennis players, soccer players, volleyball players, surfers, sunbathers and others." As things stand now, though, everyone already has equal right to use to the beach. Including dog owners. It's the pooch park promoters who want to make some residents of Animal Farm more equal than others.

If dog owners are comparable to anyone, it is smokers, who are also welcome at the beach but have been asked to leave their filthy habit at home. Besides whatever messes are left by dogs that fail to reach the designated area before letting go, Orlin can't seriously think that dog owners, enough of whom already can't be bothered to pick up after their animals on sidewalks and streets and in neighbors' yards, will be able locate their pets' droppings in acres of sand, even if they want to.

Make no mistake: if the fidolators get their way, the beach will be dirtier. Parents of small children, to take one interested group, should ask themselves if they truly want to have more dogs at the beach (you haven't enjoyed the full, rich experience of parenthood until you've watched your little one pop a sand-encrusted "tootsie roll" he's found into his mouth). Turds aside, don't forget that many canines urinate copiously, and there is nothing much even the most conscientious dog owner can do about that. If you're already afraid to let your children play freely on your urine-soaked front lawn, do you really want the same concern on your treks to the beach? For that matter, does any of us look forward to spreading our blanket in a giant box of doggie litter that isn't even odor-absorbing and pine-scented?

Cleaning our beach is already a formidable job. We shouldn't be entertaining proposals that will make it harder. Some boosters of the canine corral seemed determined to press the issue, though, and they are organizing others to hound public officials about it. The rest of us may want to let the city council and the coastal commission know we think about it, too.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dave Jackson said...

Just dropping by... Sunday afternoon and I'm searching for sites that mention beaches so I can learn which ones people think are the best for my Three Best Beaches blog. Thanks for the opportunity to comment here.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous JD McNugent said...

YOU ARE AN IDIOT!

5:45 PM  

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