New proposal for Norfolk beaches

Jordan Crawford | 9/25/2013, 3:38 p.m.
Dogs may soon be able to roam Norfolk beaches leash-free.
Dogs may soon be able to roam around Norfolk beaches without a leash, which is causing concern among many city residents.

“I don't think there is any easy answer,” Hays said. “I think there is probably going to have to be a compromise.”

It is a quality-of-life issue for Young, who likes to take her border collie on the beach for walks and let him burn off energy while chasing a tennis ball or Frisbee.

Leash rules vary from beach to beach in Hampton Roads and the Outer Banks. Virginia Beach, which allows dogs on and off leash during certain times and in designated areas, stepped up its enforcement last summer. Other beaches allow dogs, but only when on a leash. Norfolk’s law curtails beach access for dogs during the day in the summer.

Lisa Rapacki, owner of Churchland K9 in Portsmouth, has off-leash permits for three of her four dogs and frequents the beach in Ocean View. She administers the Canine Good Citizen test, and she always relays the same warning when she does: “If you can’t recall your dog, then you should get a ticket.”

Even if dog owners have control of their pups, there is still the issue of confusion. The Cottage Line Civic League, which voted against the permit program, has proposed that permitted dogs wear bright vests. That idea has gained interest.

Smigiel said the city also plans to change the signs at beach entrances, which currently only say that dogs should be leashed; there is no mention of the permits. He said a few ‘anti-poop’ signs are on the way too.