By Kerry Dougherty
Finished with breakfast? Good, read on. If not, come back later. Today’s topic isn’t exactly appetizing.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Mention Virginia Beach’s dog ordinances and I think “gadfly.”
Webster defines a gadfly as “… someone who annoys others or arouses them from complacency.” Inevitably, these single-minded crusaders march into city council meetings to grab a few minutes at a mic. They launch petition drives. They write letters to the editor.
In their spare time, they contact columnists, trying to win us over to their cause. They can be annoying, but sometimes they get things done.
Although I haven’t heard from her lately, the Beach was once home to a tireless woman whose pet issue was, well, dog doo.
I believe she first contacted me by email, expressing outrage that dog owners failed to pick up after their furry friends. They were polluting the environment, she said, creating a health hazard and generally turning the Oceanfront into a minefield of mutt manure.
If memory serves, the email was accompanied by an attachment. Without thinking, I clicked.
Suddenly I was staring at a life-size color photo of dog droppings.
I believe I sent my correspondent a polite reply, agreeing that it was not a pretty sight.
That unleashed – excuse the expression – a pile of similar messages. Some arrived via snail mail, complete with photos suitable for framing.
After viewing this body of animal-droppings art, I realized two things: First, this was a talented photographer, considering her subject matter was decidedly unphotogenic. Second, not all dog excrement looks alike.
From time to time, I found myself wincing at one of her pictures, while thinking, “Whoa, that must have been left by a Saint Bernard.”
I can’t recall this concerned woman’s name, but I think of her whenever I’m on the Boardwalk. Fact is, each time I’m there, I spy a specimen that would have drawn the attention of her Nikon.
Really, people, how hard is it to clean up behind your dog?
Which bring us to the latest chapter in the saga of Virginia Beach vs. dog lovers.
City officials have announced that they’re stepping up enforcement of dog ordinances. Animal control officers – and not just cops – can cite those who violate the code of canine conduct.
Terrific. Just what we need. More people writing summonses for incredibly minor offenses.
This means that those who venture onto the Boardwalk with a dog this summer are breaking the law. So are those who take their pets on the beach along the resort strip or who violate the strict dog hours elsewhere.
Frankly, that black Lab I saw frolicking in the surf on 69th Street on Wednesday was bothering no one, having as much fun as the kids who were swimming with him on the Fourth of July. Dogs can’t tell time. Fido had no idea that being in the water before 6 p.m. made him – his owner, actually – a scofflaw.
As much as I’d hate to see some sweating spoilsport in uniform write a ticket to that dog’s owner, it’s the slackers – pet owners who are allergic to plastic bags and who nonchalantly left behind so much material for a local photographer – who ruined it for everyone else.
Read more: PilotOnline