SEATTLE – Be careful where you walk your dog in Seattle, if there’s sand, it could cost you. Beach patrols are underway at all saltwater beaches in the area enforcing dog laws, to protect seal pups from curious canines.
“We are trying to get the word out there so that we don’t have to write the tickets, we don’t have to contact the people, we’re just trying to reduce the numbers of complaints we are getting ideally,” said Brandi Homeier, an enforcement officer with the Seattle Animal Shelter.
The complaints, she said, are coming from seal watchers trying to protect the habitat of seals and their young. “The babies are coming, they are on the beach and they are seeing people curious coming close with their dogs and then people playing with their dogs on the beach,” said Homeier.
Increased enforcement on all saltwater beaches has begun, with as many as two patrols a day in certain areas. “Dogs are not allowed on Seattle beaches period,” she said.
Instead of warnings, enforcement officers are issuing tickets. They can start at $54.00 dollars for first time offenders and go up to more than $160.00 dollars depending on if the dog was off-leash, said Homeier.
“We’ve had a leash law and a no pets on the beach for many years,” said Homeier.
Many dog owners Q13 News spoke to said they knew about the law, but not about the increased enforcement. They felt fines on the first offense were unfair.
“As long as they have the barriers up and people watch their dogs and are responsible, that should be OK,” said one woman walking her dog along Alki Beach. “I don’t think you need to necessarily fine people who are having their dogs away from seal pups.”
“I think the city should first give out warnings, because they haven’t been fining people for years and years,” said another.
Homeier said their goal isn’t to write tickets, but they do want dog owners to take the law seriously.
“It’s for everyone’s wellbeing, dogs included,” she said. “Seals have large canine teeth, this is not an interaction you want to have with your dog.”
Increased enforcement is expected to continue for two weeks, and then go down to beaches with active complaints.