Dog weekend: Beach, athletics on the agenda for local canines

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If your favorite activities include chasing balls, scratching behind your ear and rolling around in the sand, you’re probably a dog. And if so, then Oct. 1 is a good day for you, as your owners are once again allowed to take you for walks on Wrightsville Beach. And if you lick them nicely, they may even take you to Bark in the Park this weekend for even more canine frolicking.

The summer-long ban on dogs on the beach ends Thursday, and Wrightsville Beach park ranger Shannon Slocum is expecting to see many four-legged friends back out to the ocean. But that doesn’t mean that pet owners still can’t catch a fine if they don’t follow the rules, which include keeping the dog leashed and, of course, cleaning up waste.

“Treat the beach like it’s your neighborhood,” Slocum said. “Pick up behind your dog. It’s a health issue; it’s a water-quality issue. It’s just the right thing to do.”

Slocum said during the summer officials issued citations at a rate similar to previous years. The fine for bringing dogs on the beach is $250. Slocum said that while some offenders escaped with warnings, he would issue tickets to local residents aware of the rules, repeat offenders, and visitors who had an opportunity to see the signage at the beach access points.

So far this year, the town issued 52 citations for dogs or other animals on the beach, along with 54 citations for dogs running at large and three citations for failing to clean up after a dog. Total, the town has issued 127 animal-related citations in 2015, according to town records.

The town’s prohibition on dogs on the beach has been in place for many years. Town manager Tim Owens said a few bad dog owners helped prompt the ban, but added it also makes sense given the summertime beach environment.

“At the beach, there’s a lot of people in a small space,” he said. “In the summertime, we’re a busy beach destination, so it makes sense not to have dogs there.”

The fall makes a better time for dogs on the beach, Owens said, as the weather is cooler and there are fewer people. The summertime ban also helps protect the animals from the high heat on the beach, which usually isn’t a good environment for the animal.

Dogs that need more of an athletic challenge than a walk through sand and surf can compete in the Skyhoundz Hyperflite Canine Disc Championships, more commonly known as Bark in the Park, on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 11 a.m at Wrightsville Beach Park.

In the competition, owners have one minute to throw a disc for their dog to catch. Teams get points for the distance and the catch. Dogs that make a jumping catch with all four paws off the ground score an extra point. The event is open to all breeds and skill levels.

email terrylane@luminanews.com

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