Miami Beach Dogs Fight City Hall
They call themselves the Woof Patrol – there’s even a t-shirt – and they'll be meeting in the lobby of 1500 Ocean Drive at 2pm today, then walk their petitions over to the city commissioners. (For last-minute information, call 917.847.2854. Also check www.responsiblepetownersmb.org: Responsible Pet Owners of Miami Beach, which is sponsoring a "polite poop control'' event at 10 am Saturday, 15th Street and Beach Walk. Motto: Keep Our Beach Bow-Wow Clean and Did You Forget Something?)
Here’s the issue, from Woof Patroller Yvonne Conza:
"In the spring of 2006, when our new and beautiful Beach Walk was nearing completion, it came to the attention of our friends and neighbors that our pets would not be welcomed on it. At that time, Intelligence Security Service officers, hired by the city, were stopping citizens who were walking with their dogs and asking them to leave.
''In May of 2006, a number full-time residents with voter registration cards, part-time residents, and tourists, as well as representatives of local businesses, attended a city commission hearing.
''Commissioner Jose Smith placed the “pet-friendly Beach Walk” on the agenda. The commissioners voted to allow pets on a trial basis for 90 days. They also instructed City Manager Gonzalez to install “doggie” dispensers along the walk. The 90 days came and went. And it was deemed a success at least by the people.''
But apparently not by city officials. Hence, the petition drive.
Yvonne points out that dog walkers want the rules enforced: "We would like those with the proper authority to enforce the city’s policies, for example: ticketing a dog owner with their dog off the leash. We would also like to see the other problems on the Beach Walk addressed such as:
discarded prophylactics, razor blades, food, soiled diapers and underwear, cans, broken glass, cups from Starbucks, Styrofoam cartons from Jerry’s, receipts from Walgreens, broken rope fences, homeless people, deliberately discarded club and performer promotional material, cigarette and cigar butts and much more.
''An informal survey we did this weekend found bicycles, not dogs, were what folks using the Beach Walk disliked the most. The issue is not about dogs but about responsible city maintenance.''