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Bal Harbour says no to dogs on the beach

Dogs are a hot topic in Bal Harbour; the council said no to allowing dogs on the beach.

BY RODOLFO R. ROMAN
Special to the Miami Herald
Dogs are not welcome on the beach in Bal Harbour.

Councilwoman Patricia Cohen proposed that dogs be allowed on the service roadway, which is west of the dunes and east of the condominium properties.

But the village council denied the proposal on Tuesday, saying the beach should be preserved and free of dog waste. The council voted 4-1 against Cohen’s proposal, with Cohen casting the lone affirmative vote.

“The beach is beautiful, pristine and the last thing we would want is for poop to be all over the beach,” assistant mayor Joni D. Blachar said.

Dogs have been a hot topic in Bal Harbour. Last month, Cohen brought her dog in a carrier to a council meeting, which upset at least one resident. Signs are posted at Village Hall stating dogs aren’t allowed in the building.

Regarding her proposal for dogs on the beach, Cohen said walking the dogs on the beach is healthy for animals.

“People are asking me for it; it’s not just me,” Cohen said in a phone interview. “These dogs need exercise. We have no green space.”

The issue attracted a large crowd of dog lovers to village chambers.

“Dogs are becoming a very big part of people’s lives and they are common in the community,” pet owner Kristopher Taplin told the council.

Small pooches are allowed in the outdoor portions of some restaurants at the Bal Harbour Shops, grass fields in the residential area and on Collins Avenue. The village is designated as a bird sanctuary, so dogs must be leashed, said Jay Smith, community outreach director. Cats must wear bells.

A staffer in Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman’s office said the county’s recreational and cultural affairs committee recently approved a recommendation made by the Safe Neighborhood Parks’ citizen oversight committee to spend $65,000 to fund a dog park at Haulover. The county commission will take up the matter in March.

Nicolas Stein was in favor of allowing dogs on the beach, saying he would feel safer when walking his dogs.

“I don’t want my dogs on the building yards because there is a small little piece of grass,” he said. “Buses and cars are passing by; I don’t feel safe.”

But Marjorie Shell said allowing dogs on the beach would be unattractive.

“I don’t think anybody wants to walk and put their foot into something that is unpleasant,” she said.

Cohen said she will continue to push the issue.

• Also at the meeting, the council directed village attorney Richard J. Weiss to draft an anti-tethering resolution, which would be presented at a future meeting. The measure would ban dogs from being tied to any object for a long period of time.

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