Cocoa Beach commission approves dogs on beach in designated area for trial period

Cocoa Beach approved a proposal that will allow dogs on part of the city's Ocean Beach, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.  It would be in-effect for six months, so city officials can evaluate it.

Dogs would have to be on a leash, and owners would have to clean up after them. The ordinance was put forward by Commissioner Ed Martinez.

“I have three dogs at home, so I'm passionate about it,” Martinez said.  "We'd like to have the same opportunities that other communities have. Just put them on a leash, we're law-abiding citizens, we'd like to have that opportunity.”

Applause filled Thursday night’s Cocoa Beach City Commission meeting after commissioners approved the  ordinance.

“I am extremely ecstatic this has been a long, long road,” said Renee Hurley.

“We’re definitely happy for it at this point, but it’s going to be like a six months trial basis,” said Josh Jacobs.

Dog owners must be on their best behavior if they want the ordinance to stick around for good – owners are expected to have their dogs on a leash no longer than six feet and must clean up after their dogs, an issue that some residents voiced concerns over during public comment.

“For protection for public health and safety, and it’s a real health concern for me,” said a resident during public comment.

The ordinance would be enforced by beach rangers and code enforcement. Mayor Ben Malik emphasized the ordinance is not permanent.

“If we get a lot of complaints and we have a lot of incidents, we’re going to  have to revisit this guys,” said Malik during the meeting.

Dog owners say they’re mostly worried about tourists not knowing the rules.

“It’s going to take a lot of us policing them or we’re going to loose it as quick as we gained it,” said Jacobs.

The ordinance goes into effect on July 15.