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Shell Beach dog owners look for compromise with city's leash laws

Posted at 11:00 PM, Dec 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-04 02:00:58-05

SHELL BEACH, Calif. — Dozens of Shell Beach dog owners are hoping for a change in leash laws after what they call an "excessive" amount of tickets for having dogs off their leash at area parks.

At Tuesday night's Pismo Beach City Council meeting, a group of dog owners submitted a petition with over 200 signatures to get the council to allow off leash hours at certain times of the day. Some against this idea have concerns for their dog's safety.

For Shell Beach dog owners like Jim Birrell, taking his dog Dolly to area parks like Dinosaur Caves is a part of their daily routine.

"We've been going to downtown Dinosaur Park because it's within walking distance of my home here in Shell Beach," Birrell said.

Birrell says he was letting his dog run around the park off leash in the mornings until he received a ticket from the Pismo Beach Police Department.

"(The ticket) was for $485 and when I went to court, the judge reduced it to $150," said Birrell.

The Pismo Beach Police Department says its up to the officer's discretion to give either a verbal warning, a written warning and then a citation that could be fined up to misdemeanor charges.

Birrell and other dog owners went before the Pismo Beach City Council Tuesday to ask them for a compromise of hours in the morning and at night to allow dogs off leash, as these dog owners say they don't want to have to drive to take their dogs to Avila Beach - the closest place with off leash parks.

"Only some hours, not many, they won't interfere with the safety of others causing no fear. So this year dear council give it your best to meet in the middle and fulfill our request," said Shell Beach dog owner CJ Silas.

Not everyone is on board with this however; some dog owners at Dinosaur Caves Park say they don't want off leash hours at all out of fear of their small dogs getting injured.

Others say it should only be allowed in the morning when there's fewer people and pets.

"My dog was attacked twice in the afternoon and I had to the grab the dog and the dog owner got the dog back out of my way so it's kind of dangerous," said Larry Duron, a Shell Beach dog owner.

A spokesperson for the city of Pismo Beach says the City Manager has met with dog owners several times to work on this issue.

It's unclear when this may be added on the council's agenda at this time.

The neighboring town Avila Beach has restricted off leash hours downtown, from before 10 am and after 5 pm.