MIDDLETOWN, R.I. -- A recent confrontation on a beach has reignited the debate over whether dogs should be leashed on Rhode Island's sandy shores.
Some dog owners say their pets should be allowed to roam freely on beaches in the winter, when few people are around. But others say dogs should be leashed on beaches at all times, regardless of the season.
State law requires that dogs be leashed at nearly every public beach. Leashed pets are permitted at some beaches at certain times during the summer, and offseason at most beaches.
Authorities have stepped up enforcement in some places such as Middletown, where a local man pepper sprayed an unleashed dog and its owner on Second Beach last month.
Town Administrator Gerald Kempen supports his community's active enforcement of its leash laws and wants people to be aware of the consequences, including fines, if they ignore the rules. But he said he is open to setting aside beach space for unleashed dogs.
A survey by The Providence Journal found that nearly half of close to 1,000 respondents said unleashed dogs should not be allowed on the beach.