How Max the dog helped get fireworks banned on part of Garden City’s beach

Fireworks are now banned along 1,000 feet of Garden City’s beach, thanks in part to a 13-year-old Shi Tzu Bishon dog named Max.

State law allows property owners to request that public property adjacent to theirs be turned into “fireworks prohibited zones” for up to 500 feet each way. In other words, fireworks aren’t allowed.

Enter Ashley Ellerbeck and Eric Ciappio of 502 North Waccamaw Drive in Garden City. The couple moved there a year ago with dreams of living on the beach. The fireworks were not a welcome occurrence.

“I was in tears half the time just thinking you can’t sleep,” Ellerbeck said. “Our dreams were dashed pretty quickly with the nuisance fireworks.”

So the couple petitioned the county to outlaw fireworks along the property. On Monday, the county’s public safety committee agreed. The fireworks ban extends 500 feet down the beach on either side of their property, according to county spokesperson Kelly Moore. The petition will not go before the full council.

The problem, according to Ellerbeck, was that the fireworks would get shot off several times a night, usually during weeknights after midnight.

“In some cases people are drinking, and when you politely ask them not to, they can get pretty upset,” she said.

The other problem was Max, the Shi Tzu Bishon.

“He’s 13 and he’s got a heart problem,” she said. “So that also was a big concern for us, was having to put him on medication. The fireworks would last 10 minutes, but his panic attacks would last hours, all night sometimes.”

At one point, Max was so scared he ran away.

“When you have an old dog, they become a part of the family,” Ellerbeck said. “For us, it was really difficult watching him suffer like that.”

And if the dog was scared, Ciappio was worried about what the fireworks might do to a newborn.

“It’s a bit of foreshadowing,” Ciappio said. “We recently just got married and we’re hoping to start a family. If we had a newborn in the house and all those fireworks shot off at 2 a.m. in the morning, that’s just not a good situation.”

Max was not available for comment.

Christian Boschult: 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian