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Can You Teach Old Dogs New Tricks?

Published on: April 11, 2012

It was an exciting moment when Rancho Palos Verdes (RPV), an L.A. County city with the prestigious and most expensive golf course in the U.S. (Trump) decided to let dogs use the public beach next to the golf course. The agreement to build the golf course and nearby homes required providing beach access and paths. And dog owners were just itching to get their pets out on the beach if they only could! Nearby Santa Monica had tried to pass an ordinance establishing a dog-friendly beach at a California State Park facility, but that agency didn’t bite.

Now, around two months after the RPV dog beach opened, it is permanently closed, even though the experiment was set to last a year. What happened?

In a case of not being able to teach old dogs new tricks, many pet owners were not picking up messes their dogs left. Rancho Palos Verdes City Council quickly voted to remove the pet privilege and end the experiment. Is it possible for people who ignored the regulations to be taught how to act responsibly?

How other beaches succeed such as Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach and Huntington Dog Beach isn’t a miracle. It’s hard work and constant vigilance.  Both formed through strong grass roots movements with non-profit groups taking the role  as stewards.  Volunteers watch over these beaches, distribute bags, and host regular beach cleanups. They also single out people who are not picking up their dog messes. Irresponsible owners are asked to buckle up and take responsibility for their dogs.   Other dog beaches in popular tourist destinations include San Diego’s Ocean Beach Dog Beach and Newport Beach, which allows leashed dogs on the beach during certain hours.

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