Pet Owner Upset Over Shell Island Restrictions

By: Dana Arquilla
By: Dana Arquilla

Almost every weekend, Stephanie Somerset's family has boated, picnicked, and enjoyed the beauty of Shell Island, but now one member of her family has been ousted.

No dogs are permitted on the island, which is creating some hard feelings among dog owners.

Stephanie Somerset, a Bay County resident, said, "I think the feeling of the group, the next emotion that comes is that an important individual freedom has been taken away from us."

It’s why Stephanie has started a company, Bay Families with Dogs. It is a program designed to make the community aware of the positive aspects of pets in public such as appealing to the growing tourism market, creating a friendly and playful environment to children and families, and joining the hundreds of other beaches around the country that are pet-friendly.

But for now, Bay County has no beaches that allow pets.

Capt. David King of the Department of Environmental Protection said, "We don't the make the rules or the state statutes, but we are required and obligated by our oath of office to enforce those rules and regulations."

Somerset says the program is about working with government officials to find a compromise, not working against them.

"Most of us are very serious about protecting nature. It’s very important to us, too, and so we believe there's a reasonable, sensible way for us to enjoy the island."

If you'd like to find out more about Bay Families With Dogs, you can log onto: www.bayfwd.org. This site will provide membership information if you are interested in joining to make a more "pet-friendly" Bay County.


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