I’ve happily walked and swam my various dogs illegally on the beaches of LBI since I was a kid. I still do it today. Swimming our dogs in the Sea has always been one of the most cherished parts of any visit to LBI for my whole family, and many friends as well. The whole Island has ordinances against it in the Summer Season, but I’ve gleefully done it anyway and counted those laws as ones that surely do not apply to me and my precious pooches. For better or worse, I was taught that those laws are for stuffy dog-haters and uptight old people. So I look forward to arguing with them on the Beach each season while my dog shakes sand and sea all over them.
But in my multi-year quest to make friends with our local, native animals, I quickly discovered that they’ve been forced to retreat into two tiny reservations at the very far ends of the Island; and these tiny ghettoes are now incredibly precious, immeasurably valuable, and absolutely terrible places to bring my dog.
The truth is, dogs do unbelievable damage there, just by being present. It doesn’t matter how well behaved or adorable my dog might be. Remember, our beloved canines are actually Genetically Modified Organisms, created from once wild animals into adorable Frankensteins that will love us and listen to us, even though some of us don’t really deserve to be loved or listened to. The chaos they cause when they walk into the tiny homes of our local animals is incredible.
Hopefully that map makes it perfectly clear what we are talking about here. I don’t think you could even call it a “compromise.” Surely there are more nuanced points that could be made… it’s probably a little cruel to walk dogs on the front beaches during shorebird migration, or Seal beaching season. But generally, our front beaches are dead: replenished and raked to perfection. Nothing that was meant to live there can actually live there anymore. We’ve won the battle against nature, and the front beaches of LBI are clearly ours. We can go nuts!
But let’s keep a tiny bit of balance and common sense on the Island, and work to make sure Barnegat Light State Park is recognized as the special place that it is. The bottom line: it’s just plain cruel to animals to bring a dog to Barnegat Light State Park. And most reasonable dog owners, by definition, are probably not big fans of animal cruelty.
Three cheers to the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ and Todd Pover for adding this flashy new sign to the Park. This sign is not a victory for dog-haters as some might interpret it at first glance. It’s a victory for people who like animals. Besides, it just states the obvious. It was already illegal to bring your dog there as it is on almost all of the Island’s beaches.
Having spent a few years in the Park with our local animals, I know there are still a few people out there who know its illegal to bring dogs to the Barnegat Light State Park endangered species area, but they don’t believe it matters. Just take a look at that massive sign. Think about the people who built it, painted it, hauled it out there, dug it deep in the sand, and hammered nails atop it so predators would not perch on it. Think about all the better things those people had to do with their time.
Then remember that other 16 miles of Beach where you can walk your dog illegally, and go nuts.
Here’s hoping this sign helps Tufters & Tacey have better luck on their second attempt at keeping the spirit of Long Beach Wildland alive.