(July 26, 2019) Although spending summer days on the beach with canine accompaniment remains prohibited in Ocean City, rumblings for changes to dog-walking polices have begun.
During the Recreation and Parks Committee meeting earlier this month, an extensive discussion about planned expansions at the dog playground on 94th Street evolved into the possibility of updating city pet policies.
Councilman John Gehrig, who chairs the Recreation Committee, said at that meeting that amending the summertime ban for dogs on the beach has been an increasingly popular topic.
After some brief discussion, the committee voted to retain the existing policies, with Gehrig voicing an interest in revisiting the subject in the future.
City Manager Doug Miller said the dog policy discussions were a natural outgrowth of conversations during the Recreation Committee meeting about upcoming expansions at the dog playground in Little Salisbury Park.
“Recreation and Parks wants to enhance the ability for dogs to be walked, which is why we’re expanding the dog playground,” he said.
Miller said the resort has a long-standing tradition of curtailing canines on the beach during the summer months.
“In the offseason, we allow dogs on the beach,” he said. “When we start to get an influx of people walking barefoot in the sand, we stop allowing dogs.”
While the majority of pet owners are responsible, a small percentage fail to clean up behind their pets, Miller said, and that leaves a much less attractive beach.
Additionally, due to the population explosion in season, Miller said, dogs are prohibited on the beach and Boardwalk to avoid dog fights or biting incidents.
Miller said at the Tourism Committee meeting earlier this month the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association commented about the ever-growing number of pet-friendly hotels, whose management has inquired about relaxing regulations.
“Discussions didn’t go far but the topic was brought up,” he said. “We love our pets and want to be able to walk them.”