SEASIDE HEIGHTS – Allowing dogs on the boardwalk year-round seemed like a good way to support the borough’s family-friendly nature, except that dog owners and families were against the idea.
In 2017, the Borough Council instituted a change that allowed dogs on the boardwalk through the winter months, Mayor Anthony Vaz said. Specifically, this was described as between Oct. 15 and the weekend prior to Palm Sunday.
“That worked out fine. There were no problems,” he said.
So, there was a move to expand it. Why not have dogs on the boardwalk year-round? What better way to invite families than to include the family pets?
In order for the change to take place, the council would have to introduce it during one meeting, and then approve it during another one. After it was introduced, the public found out about it from online news articles and word spread. The resistance to this was so strong that Vaz asked the council members to let the motion die at the next meeting.
“I’ve received over 100 communications giving me reasons not to do it,” he said. The most important thing about this was that so many of them were dog owners.
One of the biggest arguments is that dogs can bite toddlers, which really ends the family-friendly atmosphere, he said.
Someone also told him “I won’t go to a restaurant if dogs are allowed.”
There are good dogs, and there are good dog owners. There are also bad dogs and bad dog owners.
“Have I seen dogs on the boardwalk behaving themselves? Yes,” he said. “The negatives are outweighing the pros,” he said.
Legally, if a dog bites someone, it is the dog owner’s responsibility, the borough attorney informed the governing body. However, in this day and age, anyone could sue anyone, so Vaz said he expected that the borough would be dragged into court as well.
First, the public had an outcry that there were going to be dogs on the boardwalk. Now that the public knows there won’t be dogs there, there has not been any outcry in defense of keeping the dogs on the boards, he said. Instead, people have reached out to tell him they are doing the right thing.
Some people have suggested a middle ground: allow the dogs in the morning, before the boardwalk gets crowded. This presents a different problem, Vaz said. A dog owner could see a dogwalker on the boards in the morning and decide to do it later. It would be difficult to keep someone from doing it later in the day, when people are allowed in the morning.
It is better to be consistent, he said. For example, he contacted Seaside Heights’ neighbors, and dogs aren’t allowed on any of their boardwalks, either.
“We’re too crowded in the summer,” he said.
However, there are still opportunities to have your dog on the boardwalk. The winter rules are still in effect, allowing you to take the dogs throughout the colder months.
Additionally, there is a day in July and another in August where there are dog-related vendors set up on the boardwalk. During those two days, dogs are allowed.