Orleans Selectmen Scale Back Dog Restriction

ORLEANS – Residents and visitors in Orleans may now walk their dogs on town property next to Skaket Beach outside of peak beach hours.

Selectmen voted unanimously to scale back a 24/7 seasonal ban at Willie Atwood Road and Wildflower Lane to allow dogs before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.

The decision followed a standing room only meeting last month as dozens of opponents expressed concerns, including non-dog owner Susanne Thibault.

“For a town with such an older population who have lots of animals for their health and their better being, I think, with no public comment, to close this beach down – to close that piece of happiness in the summer – I think it’s mean,” Thibault said.

Thibault said that area is a great place for dogs and people to walk.

Although she is petrified of big dogs, Thibault said she has been walking the beach with friend who have dogs for the last 36 years.

“When I saw those signs [that prohibit dogs], I was heartbroken,” she said.

She added that she regularly walks and swims at Skaket Beach and that she has rarely seen dog waste, which was one of the concerns which caused the seasonal ban.

Resident Karl Oakes, who spoke to selectmen before they voted for the ban in January said there needed to be a process where people with differing opinions on dog issues could talk and find solutions.

“I’m asking you to defer, not to make a decision,” Oakes said.

“To give it to us the people to at least make an attempt to work this out in an intelligent and mature way.”

After public comment, an amendment to the seasonal restriction was proposed by Selectman Cecil Newcomb, which would allow dogs before 8 a.m. and after 6 p.m. The proposal included requiring dogs on leashes in the section closest to Skaket Beach and under voice command on the flats, along with disposing of animal waste.

Another suggestion from Selectman Chair Mark Mathison extended the time from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

After opponents in attendance asked for more time, Selectman David Currier proposed access up to 9 a.m.

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