Council says no to dog ban

After several weeks of debate in the community, Grand Haven City Council decided to take a step back from banning dogs at the city’s Lake Michigan beach.
Alex Doty
Mar 4, 2014

Council’s decision was a unanimous “no” on the proposed ban.

"What we need to do is start enforcing our laws," Councilman Mike Fritz said. "If we can't enforce what we already have, we don't need to make new ones."

Officials prepared two resolutions ahead of Monday night’s meeting: The original proposal for a summertime ban presented Feb. 17, and an alternative that would restrict dogs from the beach between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Dogs are allowed on a leash in the city unless the area has been declared a “dog free zone” by resolution, and the area is properly signed. On the beach, current rules state that dogs are not allowed between the swim buoy area, and dogs must be on a leash in areas south of the buoys.

Mayor Geri McCaleb noted that she has been opposed to the idea.

"I know how much my dog loves running on the beach and swimming," she said. "She encourages me to walk and (I like to) watch her have fun."

McCaleb noted that she didn't want the city to say "no you can't" to dog owners, and instead encouraged people to come up with a creative solution to the issue.

"If we don't solve this, the next step is we're going to have to have to take a drastic step, and I don't want to do this," the mayor said.

Before the proposed ban was rejected, more than an hour and a half was spent at Monday night’s council meeting to discuss the proposal with the community.

"Any further regulation would be regressive," resident Todd Anthes said. "Other communities embrace dogs and, from my own experience in traveling, we pick places that embrace dogs."

Anthes said what the city faces is a problem of people who live on the beach or near the beach having a problem with dogs, and a conflict over use of the beach because of that.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.




Thank you council for your common sense; now let’s get serious about penalizing those who have caused the escalation of this issue. How about putting teeth into it too; $500.00 if caught not picking up after your dog and causing a health hazard. Post signs, supply bags, and enforce the mandatory clean up around the beach and in town. Even the elite will think twice before getting hit for $500.00 for a pile of …


I agree 100% with rukidding! Also, please enforce the leash law violations at the beach as well as the pier, boardwalk and the grassy area across from Dewey Hill. In the summer months there are some "locals" that feel they don't have to leash their dogs in these locations.


Yep, agreed. I have no problem with people taking their dogs out to the parks, but I am seeing a growing number of people letting their dogs crap all over without cleaning it up, and an even larger amount of dog owners letting their dogs run off the leash along the boardwalk and beach.

If the ordinances would actually be enforced, the dogs wouldn't be a problem.


This headline really should have been worded differently. It's misleading at best.
You should have said. "Council’s decision was a unanimous “no” on the proposed ban in the "Dog Beach area".
Dogs were, and still are banned from ALL of the City owned beaches (Memorial day-Labor Day). They are NOT allowed on any of the City owned beaches. With the EXCEPTION of the area of beach at the far southern end. It was only that area that the proposed ban was referring to. No where in this article do you mention or even refer to the Dog Beach Area / Dog Area / Dog Beach. . Which is what the whole issue was concerning.
If you can't write articles that accurately convey the facts of the issue. Then please don't write the article. Not everyone who reads your articles lives in Grand Haven. Many do not have the the knowledge and understanding of things that a resident would have.
I don't think this gentleman's statement is entirely incorrect. He and others are not really understanding what some have been complaining about.
"Anthes said what the city faces is a problem of people who live on the beach or near the beach having a problem with dogs, and a conflict over use of the beach because of that". The problem isn't with the dogs or owners. Or those that are using the Dog Beach area. The problem is people bringing their dogs out of that area. Onto/ into area's of the beach where dogs are prohibited. The beach area just north of the Dog Beach area. (where dogs are not allowed). Is a very heavily used family beach in July and Aug. That is where the problems occur on a regular, if not daily basis.

I think people should have a place they can take their dogs. But they need to obey the rules, and I believe that most are willing to do so. But you can't expect them to if they don't have a clear understanding as to what they are. Especially those that don't live in Grand Haven.

Grand Haven Happy

Thank you Grand Haven City Council for using commonsense and doing what's right to preserve pleasant and safe surroundings for the residents and visitors alike. Mike Fritz is so right that not enforcing the laws already on the books, making new laws is even worse and futile and beyond dumb.

Warning signs of MANDATORY leash requirements and the fine that will be imposed is a must and has to state clearly that ALL dogs minus the "registered service dogs in action" are included regardless of size or breed. Also, that "aggressive dogs" are NOT ALLOWED on or in any public city parks, streets, sidewalks, or land areas and the fines will apply!

Very important to have plastic bags for the dogs and signs on the beach and designated parks to include human waste also to be picked up and in a bag and placed in a provided trash barrel/receptacle. "NO EXCEPTIONS" They are the biggest offenders with their small on up children and even burying or pushing sand over dirty diapers or "poop" left and we have wittnessed it many times. They must be subject to the same fines as dog offenders as to left waste solids and/or trash. Burying or covering with sand and left behind doubles the fine!

What good is a law unless it's enforced?

I know that we will take pics with our cell phones of the actual offenders in action and then flag down an officer immediately. A pic doesn't lie especially when the waste/pile/etc is right where the offender in action had left it. Call it: "caught in the act", smile you are on camera! About everyone today carries a cellphone with a camera on it and the pics are date/time stamped also. Only have to fine an offender once and so few would ever attempt it again and we'll all win!


Thank-you City Council for recognizing that dogs are members of our families. Being able to enjoy recreational activities together is a definite health bonus. Also thank-you for realizing that the necessary ordinances are already in place. Better signage and available doggie bags will make a difference! Thanks again!


I appreciate all of the responsible dog owners who were there last night and stepped up. The problem is no one wants to enforce the rules. The police don't want to come down there and despite what one man said I never saw a single ticket issued last year.


Yep, i said it was a people problem, not dogs, humans dumping trash and its up to them to control their animal, animals don't know any better, so how would propose to enforce this problem and impose fines ? can you imagine $500 fine for poop, altho some take it pretty serious, they don't like poop between the toes, lol, lets take responsibility for your actions and let the police do theirs job, not policing dogs and cats, i think they have better thing to do !!!


I think there should be a $500 for littering which includes droppings, bottles, cans, wrappers, cigarettes, and trash of any sort.

The first week after the signs were implemented warnings were given. The second week I personally witnessed several tickets being issued, and some personal friends as well as my girlfriend's coworker have received a ticket for having their dog outside of the marked area for the on-leash dog friendly beach area. During the first couple of weeks they did a few things like having the state park rangers walk up and down the beach telling everyone that they have to have their dog on leash, within the limits of the designated area; they had an officer walk up and down the beach a couple times informing everyone to have their dog on a leash (so that he hopefully wouldn't have to make another 6 trips down to the beach that day). I have seen officers exit their vehicles to respond to calls while I was walking on the sidewalk from the parking area towards the stairs and overheard the resident that called the police and met him on the side of the road to report specific dog owners that were south of the bil-mar but north of the dog-friendly area limits. I think that the inconvenient location of the dog beach relative to parking and the lack of a direct path to access the dog-friendly area is part of the reason that so many people do not comply with the current rules.


The state park does not patrol city beach. They are sometimes in the area looking for a missing child or in an emergency but they do not patrol city beach at all.


" I think that the inconvenient location of the dog beach relative to parking and the lack of a direct path to access the dog-friendly area is part of the reason that so many people do not comply with the current rules".
I agree. I also believe that if a sign was installed so that people would see it as they were leaving the dog area. Informing them to walk up towards the sidewalk not down the beach. That they would do so. Currently most people don't understand that walking down the beach to get to the Dog Area is breaking the law/ordinance. They haven't been informed as to the correct/acceptable way to get to the Dog Beach. Most of the infractions are not made by Grand Haven residents. It's people who come here for vacation and have no idea what it is they are supposed do. Most of them don't even know where the Dog Beach area is. Much less how to correctly get there.
A majority of the incidents could be avoided. With a better education of both the Grand Haven residents and those who are from out of state. Right now things are to vague and to confusing. Most people will do the right thing. If they know what it is they are supposed to do.
A lot of people do tend to get a little defensive when being accused of doing something wrong. When is all fairness, and by no fault of their own they haven't been informed or instructed as to what the rules are.


A huge exercise in futility. Absolutely nothing will change. Dogs will be dogs with the same disrespectful owners. Check back about September 1st. Meanwhile the humans trashing the beach will fair no better. Close the gate already...

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