Dogs are welcome in the Surfside Beach park designed specifically for them.
But some residents aren’t too excited with the loud barking.
Town Council won’t be voting on a resolution proposed by one councilman after residents complained about the noise, but did ask staff Tuesday night to recommend ways to address excessive barking at the dog park.
It’s not an issue Myrtle Beach has had to deal with at its two dog parks or may even sound odd to dog lovers, but it has been a source of angst in other areas of the country, including an area in Arizona where residents asked the city for up to $400,000 for having to deal with the noise.
Surfside Beach Councilman Randle Stevens, who lives next to the dog park, said he hasn’t been bothered by any excessive or loud barking but some neighbors have. That’s why he brought a resolution and corresponding sign to Town Council for discussion Tuesday night.
Ann Franklin is one of those neighbors. She emailed Town Council, asking them to support the resolution proposed by Stevens.
“We live directly behind the dog park and it is a nuisance at times, particularly when the dogs are barking loudly,” she wrote. “We also have a problem with dog owners allowing their dogs to use our yard as their bathroom and not bothering to clean up after them.”
Donna Hill was at the dog park Tuesday evening with her Husky Sasha. She said she typically visits three days a week with Sasha and her other dog and thinks park patrons already are good neighbors.
“My husband and I work all day,” she said. “It’s the same as taking children to the playground.”
She said the dog park is a great and safe way to exercise her dog and she hasn’t noticed any excessive or loud barking.
“I’m not going to say the dogs don’t bark,” she said. “But, you can hear that just walking out in the neighborhoods with dogs locked away in homes or yards.”
Others at the meeting agreed with Hill.
Ronald Crump said the dog owners at the park help to quiet the dogs when they bark and said he has asked people who can’t control their pets to leave.
Councilman Rod Smith said that patrons having to ask dogs and their owners to leave indicates there is occasionally a problem, though he said he wasn’t sure what the problem was.
Stevens also suggested new a new sign be hung to remind park patrons the dog park is surrounded by residential homes.
The sign reads: “Notice to all dog park patrons, this dog park is located in a R-2 residential neighborhood. Please be courteous and respectful to your dog park neighbors. No barking and loud noise. Clean up all dog waste and place in containers.”
The sign also referenced two town ordinances. One addresses pet waste and says anyone who fails to clean up pet waste on public property could face up to $200 in fines.
The other ordinance is for animals making “long, frequent or continued noise which disturbs the comfort or repose of any person in the vicinity.” Violators could face up to 30 days imprisonment or up to $500 in fines.
Myrtle Beach city spokesman Mark Kruea said there haven’t been similar issues at either of city’s dog parks. The city has two barc parks, one next to the YMCA on 62nd Avenue North and the other on the Mallard Lake Drive on the old Air Force base.
In 2001, the Los Angeles Times reported on complaints by residents near a dog park, where dozens of dogs played during peak hours. The city tried to limit park hours and the number of dogs an owner could bring at any one time, as well as moving the park and analyzing the barking by conducting a noise study, which found that passing cars are often louder than the barks.
Residents in Chandler in Arizona in 2011 filed for $400,000 total in damages because of “a noisy, smelly health hazard” built too close to homes, a report in the Arizona Republic said.
In April of 2010, a dog park was closed in Iowa after complaints from residents had been building since it was opened in 2006.
Stevens said Surfside Beach’s park is in a residential district and surrounded by homes.
Homes do not surround the park on Myrtle Beach’s’ north end, but there are homes across the street from the 14-acre park on Mallard Lake Drive.
Stevens said he wanted suggestions about the resolution to find out what would be best for everybody.
“I’m kind of caught between a rock and hard place because I got people that came to me and asked me to do something, then people from the dog park said, ‘I don’t want you to do anything,’” he said. “I get telephone calls, people calling me complaining. What can I do?”
Councilwoman Mary Beth Mabry said her dog frequents the park and she hasn’t noticed loud or excessive barking when she visits. She didn’t think the resolution was necessary and said there are already enough signs.
Mayor Doug Samples said Stevens was well intentioned with his efforts, but thought the resolution was trivial, especially while Town Council is in the middle of drafting the budget.
“It’s hard being a new council member,” Samples said. “You can’t please everyone. You’re never going to make everyone happy. That’s a lesson that we all have to learn.”