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A Dog-gone Shame

As of March 1st, both United and Delta Airlines placed additional restrictions on emotional support animals and (as I understand) now require more documentation for service animals to board their flights. Anyone who has paid attention to the news reports of pet owners testing the bounds of their “animal-freedoms” likely understands.

As a dog-owned human, I particularly enjoy

taking Oban around to places that I enjoy to visit.


And recently, I went to visit a favorite brewpub (unnamed because I didn’t seek their permission quote them) where I occasionally took my “best friend” for a libation (water for him; something a little stronger for me). When I discovered a sign on the door that dogs were no longer allowed, I struck-up a conversation with the bartender. While it seems that the action was in response to the local health department, he also noted that the outdoor seating area was also now canine prohibited.

It seems that the problem of owners not controlling or cleaning up after their best friends had become chronic. “Look, we all have dogs,” said my bartender, “I get it. But the lack of consideration of enough dog owners made it easy for the owner to say ‘no more’”.

In lieu of visiting the brewpub, Oban opts for a brisk hike at the James Farm!

Once the limits are tested, and exhausted, 

then the privilege is ruined for everyone.

Osprey have been known to abandon nests that are disturbed by humans and other animals.

I get it, too. As a dog-owned human, I particularly enjoy taking Oban around to places that I enjoy visit. I loved going to the un-named brewpub after a hike at a local preserve. I love going to the James Farm with him as well. But while most dog owners who frequent the Preserve are respectful of the rules and of other visitors, there are an unfortunate number unleashed dogs and way too many unattended “messes” left behind.

The important thing to remember is this: taking a furry best friend along to public spaces is not an unalienable right. As Delta and United and the unnamed brewpub have demonstrated, there are limits. Once the limits are tested, and exhausted, then the privilege is ruined for everyone.

Dogs at the James Farm are not constitutionally protected, but the general safety and health of the visiting human public is. Dogs that are permitted to run free and leave feces without clean-up from the owners can be a threat to humans—to other dogs—to wildlife. One particular issue is the threat to nesting osprey at the Farm who are easily started and may abandon their helpless chicks if startled. 

I’m not suggesting that dogs are in peril at the James Farm. In fact, I suggest that most dog-human Preserve-users are respectful of the ju-ju of the Farm. But, if we want that privilege to continue, we need to put a little peer pressure on those that maybe don’t get it.

About the Author

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Bob Collins

Bob Collins is the Program Manager at the Center for the Inland Bays. Some of his duties include: property manager for the James Farm Ecological Preserve, the Building for Our Bays, and the CIB’s boats and vehicles; program manager for the Don’t Chuck Your Shucks, Oyster Gardening programs; implementation manager for various restoration projects; staff liaison for the Water Use Plan Implementation Committee.

A Bethany Beach resident since 1990, he lives with his wife Kelly, daughter Carly and collie Oban. He enjoys paddling and running (with Oban) when not preaching the gospel of fishable/ swimmable bays.

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