February 12, 2008
Has your dog been a victim of violence and intimidation at Willard Beach?
Reports are coming in from many reliable sources that one or more individuals at Willard Beach have hit, kicked,and picked up and thrown dogs, and puppies.
Dog owners in each of the incidents have reported similarities.
The violence has been against woman and their dogs. There were no men present besides the offender. The dogs walked close to the individual (s?).
These violent acts have served to intimidate many dog owners and in effect many woman have stopped going to Willard Beach which appears to be the agenda of the individual(s?). One person is known to the the city council as someone who frequently complains and opposes dog access to the beach.
If you value open spaces for your dog, consider joining South Portland Dog Owners.
Sopo Dog has been an active voice for people and their dogs for the last 10 years.
If you encounter bullies at the beach you are urged to call the
The Animal control officer immediately.
The number is general dispatch from the South Portland Police Department.
SPPD's # 799-5511 or dial 911.
I just added this number to the speed dial of my cell phone, and I urge you to do the same if you walk your dogs at Willard.
Bullies at the beach and other open space issues will be addressed at the South Portland Dog Owners meeting tonight (Tuesday) 2/12/08, 6-8 p.m. at the Main Branch of the South Portland Library in the community room-downstairs.
Dog owners who do not want their open spaces to disappear are urged to attend.
Sopo Dog President Cyrstal Goodrich had this to add:
"Each individual needs to come forward and complain. This is very important if we want to show how frequent these harassing episodes are and to put a name to the problem.
Signing your name to these letters about harassment is very important
as well. City Officials will have an identity to go with the incident,
and that creates validity. We cannot be silent about these events. I
believe this is part of the reason they have continued, and in some
cases have escalated into abusive and harassing situations. If you
know who the person is who harassed you, you need to let the police
know. If you aren't sure who it was you still need to tell the
police. That way a paper trail can indicate a pattern of behavior and
lead to stopping the problem more quickly".
Are Tasers legal in Maine? I know who I'd be using mine on.
Posted by GinaFebruary 12, 2008 09:35 AM
Nancy, I know of at least 2 incidents involving this individual and male owners: I was involved in one myself and know that he also kicked a Boxer belonging to someone else in So Po.
Posted by Sean MoorhouseFebruary 12, 2008 02:09 PM
The harassment on the beach has taken two forms as far as I can tell. The first is one man or men targeting women and their dogs. The second is a nearby resident who doesn't specifically target women; he just doesn't care for the dogs on the beach. Both types of harrassment are not acceptable, but let's make sure we as a group (SoPo Dog Owners) maintain our equanimity. I do not want to be part of a vigilante posse...I just don't want our privilege of walking our pups off leash taken away.
Posted by Susan ChaseFebruary 12, 2008 03:58 PM
I love dogs and I love the beach. I would never support abusing an animal for any reason. Having been to Willard Beach several times and being a parent of small children would love for dog owners to know that we as parents do not always know when dogs are safe for our children. I have been at Willard several times and have seen children knocked over by playing dogs. Some children are afraid of dogs and those children need to be protected too. Lets all try and get along!
Posted by SoPo ResidentFebruary 12, 2008 05:21 PM
I was unable to attend tonight's meeting, and I don't know where else to report this incident, so I'll put it down here. I believe it was last spring that my dog, who was running with another dog, squeezed through the narrow area where the rock outcrops and ran past a gray-haired man, a young- to middle-aged woman, and two young girls. The woman pulled one of the girls close to her an an exaggerated protective gesture. My dog never touched any of them, just kept on running past. The man yelled at us that we needed to keep our dog on a leash. We told him we did not have to leash our dog on this beach during this time of year. The man was verbally aggressive and said he would kick our dog if she came near them again. It was an ugly, distressing interaction. We heard that moments later he did kick another dog.
The beach was full of dogs. It was a beautiful spring day, one of the few beautiful days dogs and their people could walk this beach unfettered before the summer season would take that joy away again.
What I can't understand is, if you don't like dogs, or if you are fearful of dogs, then what are you doing walking that beach that is known as a dog paradise? Humans have plenty of other beaches where they can roam, unleashed, to their hearts' content.
My dog loves children. She has never knocked down a child in her life.
Posted by Jennifer LundenFebruary 12, 2008 11:45 PM
If I frequented Willard Beach, I would be carrying MACE or something to protect my 6 small dogs and myself from bodily harm at the very least. A kick delivered to a 13 pound Italian greyhound could be fatal.
Sounds to me like dog owners in the area need to mobilize and get behind community action by not only reporting any and all incidents, but by letting the City know they are a voting, tax paying, integral part of SoPo and their rights are being seriously affected.
Posted by debFebruary 13, 2008 07:24 AM
I very much appreciate your thoughts on this and am so glad you wrote in, however.........
Shortly after your post, my in box started to fill with commenters who were outraged at your flippant attitude naming Willard beach as a dog paradise and saying that PEOPLE shouldn't go there. It is owners like you who WILL get dogs banned.
-Realitiy check Willard is a PUBLIC beach that dogs currently have access to. With more people of the mind set that Willard is a doggie paradise and thinking that PEOPLE shouldn't go there because they know dogs are there!?!, we will surely loose our privilege. What about people who come here from out of town? What about a Mom who lives down the street and wants to take her kids for a walk?
The harm that has been done to dogs at the beach is real, and your post has served to undermine the seriousness of this situation.
Responsible owners already know that not everyone likes dogs and most people including ME, do not like, allow, or appreciate, unknown dogs near their kids.
It is the job of responsible dog owners to keep a watch for people and keep irresponsible dog owners in check.
Again, I do appreciate your speaking up so that we can all try to work this out and learn from this experience.
Posted by Nancy Freedman-SmithFebruary 13, 2008 07:54 AM
"What I can't understand is, if you don't like dogs, or if you are fearful of dogs, then what are you doing walking that beach that is known as a dog paradise? Humans have plenty of other beaches where they can roam, unleashed, to their hearts' content."
I am at a loss for words over this comment. It really makes me want to support your cause.
Posted by BobFebruary 13, 2008 10:39 AM
Hello from the SoPoDOG-
We had a meeting last night 2/12 with good attendance of about a dozen individuals with others who let me know that they could not attend, but were interested in being more involved. Our discussion group will have information from last night's meeting on it later today.
Please join our discussion group via this link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/southportlanddog
Just to recap and to let everyone know the most important points where the group stands as a whole:
- We are going to request the new Animal Control Officer in South Portland come and meet us at a friendly "Meet and Greet", all SoPoDOG Members are welcome to attend the meeting.
- The group in no way has the goal of keeping PEOPLE from using open spaces. These are public property and need to be treated as such by ALL CITIZENS!
- It is the goal of the SoPoDOG to self-police other dog owners. We need to maintain and encourage the responsibility of all dog owners to be respectful of all people using the beach.
- Another goal of the group is to be more active in other community groups, such as the West End Trails Committee with the South Portland Land Trust, as well as other East End Trail Development in South Portland to help ease the pressure on frequently used spaces. Tom Blake, City Councilor, attended our meeting and encouraged the group to work with the South Portland Land Trust and other groups to share community investment and responsibility. This was well received by members at the meeting.
- And regarding harassment issues as well as any threatening activities/behavior by humans or animal abuse, THIS MUST BE REPORTED TO THE SOUTH PORTLAND POLICE.
It is critical that civil rights of citizens and safety not be compromised in public, and the group as a whole encourages any threatening act to be reported immediately to the police. Keep a cell phone with you and make the call when it happens or later on if you don't feel safe at the time.
- The priority of all dog owners should be to KEEP THEIR DOGS UNDER CONTROL EITHER BY VOICE COMMAND OR ON LEASH. Avoiding all conflict with people who do not want dogs near them is the best way to be a good dog owner. Do not create conflict or engage in aggressive behaviors with others. AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIORS MUST END SO THAT PEOPLE ARE SAFE.
Overall avoid situations in which people may complain, have negative interactions and be hostile. Your goal in an open space is to have a nice, relaxing walk with your friends, family and your dog. It is not to get harassed or harass others, so keep that as your primary concern. One good way to avoid conflict on Willard Beach specifically is to KEEP WALKING along the beach. Please don't stand and congregate and allow dogs to run around people while they are trying to walk. Keep dogs under voice control, or put them on a leash if they are not listening.
- The group and the city are asking for tough enforcement of ordinances so people who are not responsible dog owners get issued fines and consequences. Dog owners cannot be allowed to go to a public place and allow their dogs to use that space as a "dog park". This threatens the open space access for all dog owners. Enforcement also includes the harassment issues so basically everyone is encouraged to be polite, respectful and enjoy the joys of being outdoors for recreation and socialization!
Keep walking safely and join our group!
We want you involved!
Crystal Goodrich, President of the Dog Owners Group
Visit our website at www.sopodog.com
Posted by Crystal Goodrich, President South Portland Dog Owners GroupFebruary 13, 2008 11:38 AM
My toddlers are becoming afraid of all dogs, because every time we go to a leash-free beach or park, irresponsible owners let their dogs run - usually at full speed - right up to them. It scares my kids to death - most of the dogs are bigger than my kids! Dogs have even knocked my kids down when I haven't been able to lift them (the kids) out of the way. It is absolutely meaningless for the owner to smile and tell me they're harmless, or they're friendly, or they're just being playful. Because of this arrogant attitude and lack of respect for all beach and park users, I'm turning from dog ambivalence to outright hostility. I would never hit or kick a dog, but I'm being pushed towards advocating more stringent restrictions and enforcement. People come first.
Posted by kitkatFebruary 15, 2008 01:02 PM
Iíve done a lot of thinking about this interchange. I can certainly see why some of my comments caused anger, and Iím sorry for that. I can see, too, how my comments served to polarize the issue, and that is not helpful.
I will say that I donít believe I ever expressed such polarizing thoughts until that day that that man threatened our dog. I will also say that I believe my ďflipĒ comments emerged as a result of my frustration with all the rules and regulations about where I can go with my dog, and when. Dogless families can go to any beach they want at any time of day, at any time of the year. We dog people tough it out in the dead of winter on the coldest and windiest days so that our dogs can have a place to run and explore and dig and socialize. Iím frustrated that we are consigned to taking our dogs there during the worst months of the year, and soon as it gets nice out weíre not allowed on the beach. At the same time, I can see how hoards of dogs mixed with people and children could wreak havoc on a summer beach.
I wonder when the no-dog rule was instilled at Willard Beach and so many other beaches in Maine. My guess is that it happened in the 80s, and that there was in fact a long period of time when dogs and people mixed freely at beaches. What happened to cause this to change?
I think, being a newbie to Willard Beach (we have had our dog for just two years), I have taken for granted that it is, as I said, ďa dog paradise,Ē without recognizing how hard people had to fight for the privilege to bring their dogs there.
I certainly donít want to be one to polarize this issue, and Iím sorry that my comments served to do just that. It is helpful for me to hear the perspectives of level-headed people like Susan Chase. Certainly the last thing in the world that I want to see is children afraid of dogs because of bad experiences at the beach! Of course, I also donít want to see dogs frightened by people because of bad experiences at the beach.
Posted by Jennifer LundenMarch 8, 2008 01:19 PM
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