Dog ban on Sharon Public Beach Park.

On May 30th a post on the closed Facebook group Everything Sharon initiated a discussion about the ban of dogs in Sharon Beach Parks.  The group has 4.819 member who are all supposed to be living in the Town of Sharon.

The Town of Sharon had at the 2010 census 17.612 citizen living in 6,219 households, and according to 2017 Town Report 1,952 licensed dogs.

On June 1st I created a poll on Everything Sharon to see how members of the group felt about the ban on dogs in our beach parks.  The status on June 3rd is shown below.

159 Dogs should be allowed in parks and beaches all year round as long as they are on leash.
44 Dogs should be allowed in parks all the time, but banned from the beaches.
22 Dogs should be banned from the public parks and beaches all the time.
6 Dogs should be banned from the beaches all the time, but allowed on the park trail in the winter (current state)
5 Dogs are welcome on trails on leash year round and on the beaches off leash October to May
2 Dogs can be unleashed on the beach as long as it is under control of its owner
1 Banned May – Labor Day. Leashed Labor Day – May
.

The discussions has so far had 87+54  entries from quite a number of people.

Not everybody are or wish to be in the Facebook group where this discussion takes place, so I have created this WEB-page with the result of the poll and my input to the discussion.  I have left out all the other citizens input to the discussion and I have removed all references to the names of people taking part in the discussion, since the access of this WEB-site is not restricted.

Google-ing Sharon dog ban

the oldest hits you will find is:
2010 July 8th – Sharon selectmen ban dogs on Lake Massapoag during day

2012 May 8th – Sharon Voters Say: No Beach Dog Ban Allowed

2012 June 7th – Dog ban at Sharon Memorial Beach approved

2012 June 10th – Sharon health board bans dogs from beaches

2012 June 26th –  New Sharon Health Board Beach Rule May Have Dog Owners Crying ‘Foul’

Minutes from the relevant meetings in 2010

Selectmen Board meeting on July 6th 2010:

  • REGULATION OF DOGS ON BEACH
    Selectman Heitin said that discussion regarding this issue had begun three weeks ago.  He said he was recommending restricting dogs on the beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Chairman Roach said that people walk their dogs on the beach and not picking up the dog droppings.  Chairman Roach also said he would like to allow dogs to be walked on the path at the beach when the beach is not staffed. Selectman Powell said he is in favor of prohibiting dogs on the beach during the day when the beach is staffed. The Board felt that the prohibition of dogs should be limited to any time that the beach is in operation. They also want apply the regulations to include the times where there is a public event at the beach.
  • VOTED: (Powell/Heitin) Voted unanimously to prohibit dogs on the beach from Memorial Day through Labor Day while the beach is in operation and at any time when there is a public and town authorized event.  On the off-hours dogs shall be allowed on a leash on the path only.

Selectmen Board meeting on July 20 2010:

  • REGULATIONS REGARDING DOGS ON THE BEACH
    Chairman Roach said that there had been ongoing discuss regarding dogs on the beach.  The Selectmen voted on the following bylaw:
  • VOTED: (Powell/.Heitin) Voted unanimously that the Board of Selectmen, pursuant to our authority as Park Commissioners and under our general authority to regulate municipal land, hereby adopts the following order:No dogs shall be allowed on Memorial Beach (1) from Memorial Day through Labor Day during the hours when the beach is staffed with a gate attendant and/or lifeguard, or (2) at any additional time when Memorial Beach is being used for a public event.  At all other times from Memorial Day through Labor Day dogs shall be allowed only on the path and shall be held firmly on a leash.The Board hereby authorizes the Town Administrator to post this regulation at Town Hall, on the Town Website, at Memorial Beach and at any additional location he deems appropriate.
  • VOTED: (Powell/.Heitin) Voted unanimously to change the motion to include the Community Center Beach.

Selectmen Board meeting on August 17 2010:

  • Consider approval of language for signs at Memorial Beach and Community Center Beach
    The Board had a discussion about the language of the regulation which limits dogs at the Community Center Beach and Memorial Park Beach.  The Board decided not to allow any dogs at the Community Center Beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Chairman Roach pointed out that the bacterial counts for that beach had been particularly high all summer.
    Recommended Sign Language
    Memorial Park Beach Dog Policy
    Memorial Day – Labor Day: No dogs allowed on beach or path when beach is staffed.At all other times leashed dogs only allowed on path.
    Community CenterBeach Dog Policy
    Memorial Day – Labor Day: No dogs allowed on beach.  At all other times leashed dogs allowed on beach.
    Memorial Park Beach And Community Center Beach Dog Policy Regulation
  • VOTED: (Powell/Heitin) Voted unanimously the Board of Selectmen, pursuant to our authority as Park Commissioners and under our general authority to regulate municipal land, hereby adopts the following order:
    1. No dogs shall be allowed on Memorial Park Beach (1) from Memorial Day through Labor Day during the hours when the beach is staffed with a gate attendant and/or lifeguard, or (2) at any additional time when Memorial Park Beach is being used for a public event. At all other times dogs shall be allowed only on the path and shall be held firmly on a leash.
    2. No dogs shall be allowed on the Community Center Beach (1) from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
      At all other times dogs shall be allowed on the beach only if held firmly on a leash.

    The Board hereby authorizes the Town Administrator to post this regulation at Town Hall, on the Town Website, at Memorial Park Beach and the Community Center Beach and at any additional locations he deems appropriate.

Hence the rules for the two beaches were different, because the water quality differed.

Memorial Park Beach 2010

Community Center Beach 2010

I have so far only had access to water-quality test for the last 3 years, but it is worth noting that also today, the water quality is worse on the community center beach, while the Memorial Beach is fine. – Interesting and respect to the Selectmen of 2010 to have the rules reflect reality.

Board of Health meeting minutes April 26th 2010

  • Re-establishment of dog ban on Town Beaches – Lake Massapoag
    Following a brief discussion, the Board tabled this discussion.

Board of Health meeting minutes May 10th 2010

  • Re-Institute Dog Ban on Town Beaches
    Following further discussion:
  • Voted: (Peck/ Welch)Rosen, Peck, Welch, and Schwab voted in the affirmative….Stead abstained… to recommend to the Board of Selectmen as Park Commissioners that dogs be banned from the town beaches between Patriots Day and Columbus Day.

Minutes from the relevant meetings in 2011

Further excerpts will appear here once I get through reading the minutes

Below is some of the relevant  Board of Selectmen minutes:

The letter of the law

I haven’t been able to locate the law as it looked in 2010 yet.

The law as it is today is in Chapter 300 Board of Health Regulations  Article 26 Animals and Control of Zoonotic Diseases $300-26.3.C which says:

  • No dogs, horses or other pets are allowed on Sharon beaches at any time from April 15 to October 15, of each year. No dogs, or other pets, are allowed to swim in beach water at any time during the year. Dogs or other pets will be allowed on the designated pathway on Memorial Beach from October 15 to April 15, and must be kept on a leash at all times. Pets may board boats at the boating docks at Memorial Beach only.

The last update to this entry was made May 18th 2016

In the online Board of Health Meeting minutes from April 13 2016 you can read this:

  • The Board then turned to a discussion of issues related to dogs on town beaches. Article 28 was discussed, current signage reviewed, and other issues including Board minutes from 2012 discussed. The Board asked that more information be provided. Anderson agreed to provide a timeline of discussions and decisions by the Board as described in the minutes, to examine current scientific literature on health issues related to dogs in swimming areas, and to gather information on actions by other towns involving restriction of dogs on beaches. Anderson also agreed to draft proposed revisions to Article 28 based on issues discussed at the meeting (off season use of the beach, use of beach path, etc.), and the need for the Article to reflect more decisions made since the article’s approval.

You can find the minutes from all the boards meetings since 2002 online, I am still trying to figure out what happened when and why.

2018 version of sign at both beaches

It all comes down to how can we change this law so it will be more in line with the citizen of this town.

My entries to the discussion on Facebook

I am wondering why we have this rule?

Has there really been so many problems in the past with people walking their dog on a leash that it was necessary to make this rule and invest in these signs?

Or are we just dog-haters here in Sharon or rule-lovers ?

There is a risk with everything. I have heard talk of E-coli and seen numbers. Most cases are still from hamburgers is seems, and I am not giving up on that. And giving up the joy of being with a happy dog is not going to change all the other E-coli sources. We will all just have a poorer life. pointing fingers at each other – Just because someone pulled the health-joker.

And yes somebody might get e-coli from the lake, but assuming that there is more people than dogs swimming in the lake it is very hard to argue that it should be from the dogs.

My real fear here is that of just giving up – I have heard arguments like the system is rigged and there is nothing you can do – it is the system/politicians/experts you have no say – I hope there is something that can be done – Otherwise this is just another nail in the coffin.

E-coli in fecal from dogs 0.16% https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20124764

E-coli from beef-cattle 13.8% https://about-ecoli.com/ecoli_sources

I have not been able to find a source that proved a single E-coli case coming from dogs. But you probably should not feed your dog raw hamburgers

Another group member wrote Sharon voted to allow dogs at lake only to be changed by unelected Board Of Health .

Interesting, it got me googling, and yes surely enough I found the links to two articles describing what you say – very disturbing indeed.

May 8th 2012 Sharon Voters Say: No Beach Dog Ban Allowed

June 10th 2012 Sharon health board bans dogs from beaches

I have started a small survey to see if the people of Sharon are totally out of sync with their leaders – And right now it seems that it about time to get the citizens replaced.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/991371854265499/permalink/2196878780381461/

n 2008 there were no signs at the park-entrances at the place where the current signs are, this you can verify for yourself on Google Streetview 2008, I have included a screenshot below.

We moved here in 2014, and it has always bothered me that this town somehow does not like dogs, not just at the lake, dogs are also for some reason which I do not understand, banned from the parking-lot at the community center.  So for half of the year there is no LEGAL way my dog Allie and I can walk around the lake using the trail descriptions you can find on Town WEB-site.  It is worth risking $25 for a nice walk around the lake, but I am not the kind of person who likes to break the law.

Last year the signs were replaced with the nice huge signs we have now, at best a waste of money, the old signs were in great shape and just a few years old, you can see them on 2013 version of streetview. (found in the black box on top left on the link above)

When I slowly learned that this dog-ban has been getting worse over the years, I tried to google it to see when it all started – and why. I cannot find any written reference to the dog-ban before 2010, and as you can see on Google street-view the signs were not there in 2008.

I am still puzzled as to why the ban had to be expanded from 3 to 6 months. I assumed there had been a presentation at a town-hall meeting, explaining the benefits of this move i.e. how many fewer cases of diaria the town would see with this move, and that people then had voted and accepted that.

From what I have learned so far, it seems not to have happened this way, and it disturbs me.

This is why I say – The way this is handled has to change.

PS: don’t you think the picture without all the signs are so much prettier – I certainly do.

Yes – feces of all kind are bad, especially feces from closely related species, I am sure you could find a source that says human feces are as bad as it gets for humans. Still we do not ban humans on the beach. We don’t even require people to shower before they go into the lake – we just blame the dogs.

It is all about numbers, There is no source that claims that dogs are the main danger when it comes to E-coli – on the contrary.  Google it and you will see that ALL of the 35 E-coli outbreaks we have seen since 2006 are food related – Yes there is a chance that one person will die of E-coli in Sharon every 851 years, but most likely it will be from eating an under-cooked hamburger.

It is probably worth noting that the water quality is monitored, so the result would be an increase in the number of days the beach would be closed due to high levels of E-coli.

Americans are so good at using statistics to make our living better, and we are the oldest democracy – But when it comes to talking about walking your dog on the beach, neither common sense or what the majority of our neighbors think has any say.

This has to change !

If the ban of dogs will remove the E-coli risk we certainly should ban dogs – but where is the evidence to support that? On our “National Institutes of Health” pages there is study showing 0.16% risk of E-coli in dog-poop.

Most likely we (human beings) is the reason there is a problem – In the country where I grew up there is E-coli too, and the way it is handled is that we (humans) are supposed to shower/wash ourselves before we dive in – and believe me, people sends you looks if you skip, and yes, there are some that do not follow the rules.

I might be more convenient to blame the dogs, And I do understand that 10% of the people on this list would feel better without dogs all together, and it certainly would be just as bad to neglect their needs.

I am just hoping that this town has room for us all, and we can find a balanced approach to this.

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