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E. Hampton Village reins in proposed leash law

Ron Katz from East Hampton takes his dog,

Ron Katz from East Hampton takes his dog, Dolce, for a run on Main Beach in East Hampton. (April 19, 2013) Credit: Randee Daddona

Dogs will not have to be on leashes when they step onto the beach in East Hampton Village, at least not until at least the Fourth of July, and maybe never.

About 50 dog owners turned out Friday at a village board meeting to protest a proposed change in code that would have required leashes on dogs from the point where they step off the road until they are 500 feet from the beach entrance.

Some complained the proposed change was "vague" -- it referred to "all other times" although the village board had no intention of imposing the leash requirement after the summer season.

Others complained that government was overreaching, that existing laws would work well enough if they were enforced, or that fines for not cleaning up after your dog were not steep enough to deter people.

Several people said most dog owners clean up after not only their pets, but other dogs as well. A couple suggested fines so high that the few who do not clean up would really be hurt. One man suggested undercover police be stationed on the beach to catch poop ignorers.

One resident, author Steven Gaines, gave the board a different view.

"This is going to be an AP wire story. We'll look like fools," he said. "The real problem is code enforcement. We don't have enough people."

There was some discussion of police sweeps of the beaches, or of using undercover police officers on the beach.

"One guy in the back [of the room] said someone could dress like a dog," Gaines added.

Some supported the proposal. Sara Davison, executive director of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, said "we believe this regulation is a sound one," although she said 500 feet "is totally unrealistic." She suggested 250 feet.

Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. agreed that the vague wording was enough to send the resolution back to the village board for work, and predicted no vote could take place on it before at least the Fourth of July weekend.

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