Dog owners may have reason to be confused about whether they can bring their pets to Southold’s beaches.
Some Town Board members recently said even they weren’t aware that the town code actually prohibits dogs on all town-owned beaches. That code provision is seldom, if ever, enforced.
Southold also doesn’t have a leash law in areas outside of beaches, but simply requires that dogs be under their owners’ control, said Supervisor Scott Russell.
The board is considering loosening restrictions at some beaches, perhaps allowing dog owners to bring leashed dogs to town beaches at road ends. Dogs are not, nor will they be, permitted at bathing beaches with lifeguards.
Board members plan to continue the discussion at upcoming meetings.
They first looked into the issue after Mattituck resident Dan Catullo reported two weeks ago that he was attacked by two dogs at Bailie Beach on the Sound, just east of Mattituck Inlet.
Mr. Catullo said the beach, which is owned by the Mattituck Park District and so not under the town’s control, is known as “dog beach.”
The town also has no say on the use of privately owned shorefront. Mr. Catullo said the attack took place below the high tide line in front of private property, an area open to the public in most cases.
During the board’s July 3 work session Police Chief Martin Flatley said the beaches should all be posted with “No Dogs Allowed” signs. He said the police can check to make sure the signs are in all the places they are required. More of those signs began appearing at town beaches late last week.
A particularly confusing situation has occurred at the New Suffolk town beach. There’s a pet waste disposal bag dispenser in a field adjacent to the beach along with signs urging dog owners to pick up after their pets. But until this week there was no sign indicating that the dogs are not allowed on the bathing beach.
The supervisor said he understands how that could leave people confused. “Pick up after your dog if it’s here, and pick up your dog if it’s here,” he said.
The town installed “No Dogs Allowed” signs in New Suffolk late last week.
Board members agreed that a public education campaign could help clarify the issue.
Councilman Al Krupski said that after word got out that the dog park on Peconic Lane would be closed if people didn’t clean up after their pets, dog owners cleaned up the park almost immediately.
Mr. Catullo suggested that dog owners will also pay more attention to the laws if they start getting tickets for bringing dogs where they aren’t allowed.