THE DOG ISSUE

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Asbury Park saw its best weather of the year, so far, last weekend – eighty-five degrees and sunny with a beautiful breeze. Spring fever was all over. I love the first days of guys in shorts after a long winter.

Saturday and Sunday were perfect days to take a walk on the boardwalk with your family – however “family” is defined for you.

I hope, however, you did not bring your dog to the boardwalk, as I saw a few misguided out-of-towners with money to spend, do.

On Sunday, as I was petting the dogs, an ever-so-gentlemanly police officer kindly explained to the couple that “no dogs are allowed on the boardwalk, ever.”

The surprised couple – again, wanting shop, eat, enjoy our boardwalk and regale their friends with great boardwalk stories about Asbury Park, got in their cars and left.

The issue of allowing pets on the boardwalk has gotten a lot of attention lately – it’s one of the hottest topics on the “Yahoo! List”, initiated a community meeting at Asbury Bark (see previous article at TheCoaster.net) and, as a result of the meeting, the city council has organized to develop a solution to the “dogs on the boardwalk” issue.

“Can you imagine Hudson River Park or the Santa Monica beach if everyone had to walk their bike or leave their dog at home?” said resident Dan Guevara. “We want to enjoy what we rightfully deserve and pay for with our taxes.”

I, and many others, agree with Dan. It seems that politicos in town are listening regarding this simple quality of life issue.

“We can come to a compromise for dog access to the boardwalk during peek hours, during peek season,” said Councilman Ed Johnson, owner of two cats and, to his credit, who I saw as the first outspoken politico on the subject. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t work together – dog owners, dog lovers, people who don’t have a preference to enable everyone to enjoy all the city has to offer.”

Since the meeting at Asbury Bark, many scenarios and suggestions have been proposed.

“I am in support of a pilot program of allowing dogs on the boardwalk possibly making it a revenue generator for the City by selling doggie badges,” said Councilwoman and owner of two dogs Sue Henderson.

The badge concept sounds like a lot of bureaucracy to me, however anything is better than what we have now.

“Even with leashed dogs there has got to be some kind of enforcement as far as controlling your animal and waste. I am not the only council member who has gotten calls to please not allow dogs on the boardwalk,” said Councilman John Loffredo who is also leaning towards some sort of compromise.

Last week, City Manager, Terry Reidy reached out to council and community members, including resident Scott Schechter, to participate in a committee – whose first meeting was on Tuesday evening – headed by Councilwoman Henderson. The results of the meeting were not known by deadline.

“This issue comes down to common sense for dog owners,” said Scott. “Naturally there are times when dogs should not be on the boardwalk – for their own safety.”

Dog lovers unite so this issue does not drag out or take up too much valuable time for our over-imposed upon politicians.

“There is a key way to help influence the resolution of this issue,” said Jim Modica, owner of Asbury Bark. “Voice your opinion to the council immediately.”

“This can and should be resolved by Memorial Day,” said Johnson.

Councilwoman Henderson and Amy Quinn, currently running for City Council – and a vocal supporter of this issue concurred.

Lets all hold them to that.

Councilman James Bruno declined to comment and the Mayor did not respond to two email inquiries.

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