Tybee island dog friendly, how to help a dog in water on a hot day
Tybee Island dog friendly, how to help a dog in water on a hot day
A Tybee Island beach has a new addition to its dog-friendly list — dogs can now enter its facilities as part of a new state law that's designed to help them in the heat.
The new rules do not take effect until next month. But officials with the Tybee Island Convention and Visitors Bureau sd Monday that they are planning to be compliant with them and the change in law would come as welcome news to residents.
“When we opened our new facility, it was a big goal to get our dog (fees) implemented, and we really wanted to work with some of the new legislation to make sure we were implementing the correct rules,” sd Connie O’Grady, the CVB’s general manager.
Those rules — and the new beach entry law — came after the state Legislature passed an amendment to a bill to help dogs when it gets hot in the summer.
The new law goes into effect in July. It increases fines for owners who leave their dogs in cars for more than 30 minutes, and it allows animal control officers to impound dogs that are causing a nuisance.
“It’s going to help all dogs. I’m just glad it’s going to help all the dogs,” O’Grady sd. “Dog beach is a very hot place, even in the middle of the day. So to actually have that option and to get out there is really important.”
The idea behind the new legislation is to curb the “heat stranding” of dogs in vehicles in the summertime. In 2013, state law had required that an animal control officer must issue a citation to a vehicle owner who did not have animal protection collars, but did not mention dogs. The new law clarifies that it applies to any dog, no matter its breed.
“It’s an issue of safety,” sd state Sen. James Rarick, a West Haven Democrat who helped shepherd the bill through the Legislature. “A couple of years ago, I got hit by a car. I was hit by a car because a dog had been left in a car and that person’s car went up a curb and hit me. So, it’s just very important to have the option for someone to impound that dog if it’s going to impact someone’s safety.”
Last year, the CVB began requiring owners of dogs and cats, as well as other animals, to be covered by a collar that is clearly marked as “animal protection” as the entry point to the beach. The CVB also requires all dogs and cats to be on a leash when in the water.
While the new law requires all dogs to be on a leash during the beach season, the CVB has no enforcement authority, sd CVB spokeswoman Stephanie White. The state Department of Environmental Protection, however, can fine violators up to $1,000. The agency’s website, dpis.com/index.asp?Lang=eng, also has a page on beach safety that offers tips, including “Keep your dog off the boardwalk.”
Still, the number of people taking to the water with dogs has decreased in recent years.
In 2013, there were about 20,000 visitors at the shore for the winter and summer seasons. Last year, that number dropped to about 17,000.
“I think the new laws are better for everyone,” sd Amy DiBattista, a visitor who brought her husky mix, Sammy, to the beach Wednesday. “It is for their safety. It’s a good law.”
Sammy, a 1-year-old, has been coming to the beach for four or five years, sd DiBattista, who runs a dog-walking service. “This is the only beach where he can get into the water. He’s really comfortable here.”
“This dog is just happy to be there,” she added. “He doesn’t care if people are staring at him or not. He’s happy to have a place.”
“I just think it’s more respectful,” DiBattista sd.
The new law also prompted the CVB to add a lifeguard on duty at the public lifeguard station on Surf Avenue, where the beach is located. While lifeguards have been a requirement since 1983, in recent years there hasn’t been a volunteer on duty.
“The CVB never thought a person who is not a lifesaver would be needed,” McGovern sd. “But we changed our mind. We realized we couldn’t operate this facility without lifeguards.”
While there are lifeguards on duty in other parts of town, McGovern sd that many visitors would come to the station. “As summer has gone on, that’s become more and more evident,” he sd. “We had a lady last summer who wasn’t feeling well, and we realized she was in the parking lot, and we weren’t sure what her condition was.”
McGovern sd that a regular lifeguard usually does the job of a supervisor at the station. “The people in the public know they are welcome to take a break if they need to.”
A lifeguard on duty is pd a salary by the CVB. McGovern sd that the amount of the salary is based on the number of years the employee has worked for the CVB.
The CVB uses its surplus money to provide scholarships to the children of current and former CVB employees. McGovern sd that the CVB has had a pool of money for years to provide scholarships.
“They call us a ‘pool of dollars.’ But, what they don’t understand is it’s dollars that are pd with other dollars. It’s dollars rsed with dollars collected from the public. The more money we rse, the more scholarships we can provide,” McGovern sd.
The money to operate the pool is rsed in a number of ways, including ticket sales from the CVB’s Annual Meeting and the Children’s Holiday Parade. The funds rsed for the pool are used for scholarships and to cover the cost of lifeguards.
McGovern sd that she would like to find a way to rse the money through other events. “We need to find a way to keep the public in mind about what we do.”
The CVB also uses the money from the pool to provide funding for youth programs and activities. One of the youth programs is the “Back2School” program. McGovern sd that the program involves providing free lunches to students from the elementary school level. She sd that the program allows those students to bring lunches from home that will be free to them.
The CVB also provides funding to the schools in an effort to keep them in operation.
“Our goal is to find a way to fund those children with lunch programs. The Back2School program is a small part of our youth programs, but it’s another way we can give back to our children,” McGovern sd.
McGovern sd that one way to rse