'This is a privilege, not a right' commissioners say about dogs on beach

Will rules change in Cocoa Beach? Debate rages on in Brevard County

By Michelle Ganley - Graham Media Group

COCOA BEACH, Fla. - A motion passed 4-1 on Thursday night to fix a few items included in an ordinance involving whether to let dog owners legally walk their leashed, registered pets on a future designated stretch of beach in Cocoa Beach.

The amended motion will address the topics of Fourth Street heading south, and having a six-month, instead of a 12-month, trial period for the ordinance.

Commissioners held a public comment session once again Thursday night to discuss the possibility of dogs at the beach. The dogs would have to be on a 6-foot leash.

Many people attended in support of the ordinance, while others stood firmly against it.

The commissioners stressed to the public, "This is a privilege, not a right."

"I urge you to please make sure to pick up after your animal, and keep your animals on a leash," said Mayor Ben Malik of the Cocoa Beach City Commission. " ... If we get a lot of complaints and incidents, we are going to have to revisit this. We want to make it happen, but we have to be fair to all parties."

The topic has sparked emotional reactions in Brevard County for decades.

The ordinance would go into effect July 15.

Right now, dogs are prohibited from Brevard County's 72 miles of beaches, with a lone exception: Canova Beach Park near Indian Harbour Beach. The Brevard County Commission initially opened the dog-friendly beach in February 2012 as a one-year trial program, and canine owners have flocked there since.

Boundaries of this popular 700-foot beach stretch from the park's southern dune crossover to the Radisson Suite Hotel Oceanfront property line. Dogs must be leashed and wear tags showing current license and vaccinations.

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