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Southold Town rethinks leash regulations for dogs

A sign posted by Southold Town Creek alerting

A sign posted by Southold Town Creek alerting dog owners to keep their dogs out. (Jan. 2, 2012) Credit: Randee Daddona

Dogs would have to be leashed on Southold Town beaches during the middle of the day during the town’s busiest months, under a proposal discussed Thursday by Southold officials.

Dogs would be able to go off-leash on non-swimming beaches in the early mornings and evenings during the summer under the town’s proposal that will be heard at a future meeting.

Current town code bans all dogs from beaches, though Supervisor Scott Russell said that never has been enforced. Dogs still would not be allowed at the town’s five swimming beaches when a lifeguard is on duty.

The dog leash debate has been a contentious one in Southold, as it has been in other East End towns. But Thursday’s town board code committee meeting was sedate, with board members and just a few members of the public there.

Pat Moore, a resident who owns two dogs, said of the new proposal, “It seems reasonable.”

The proposal will be drafted by a town attorney and then brought back to the full board.

The exact scope of the on-leash times is to be determined, depending on the consensus of the town board, Russell said.

Some had suggested May to October for the leash requirement, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. But those on the pro-dog side suggested a more pet-friendly Memorial Day to Labor Day, with hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As for the old, leash-your-dog-but-let-go-of-the-leash trick, Southold Councilwoman Jill Doherty said that hypothesis was presented at one of the numerous public hearings on the topic. Southold officials took that into consideration, requiring dogs to be “tethered” — leash in hand — under the proposed law.

Even when dogs are allowed to run free, owners would have to have a leash in their possession. And Doherty said that one of the prime concerns is people not picking up their dogs’ droppings, which has been and continues to be required by the town.

Any new leash law would not apply to service dogs, Russell said.


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