Top dog says the Point is under new management


By Meg Olson

Local sheriff’s deputy Tom McCarthy and his supervisor, Sergeant Kevin Moyes, met with a small group of community members when the hot-button issue of issuing citations to owners of off-leash dogs was on the agenda for the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC).

Committee member John Lesow requested the item be on the agenda for the October 13 meeting. “Community sentiment is for less rigorous or predatory enforcement of the leash law,” Lesow said.

Lesow also asked that the committee move quickly on a proposal endorsed by a Dog-at-large-1majority of Point Roberts Taxpayers Association members to make a portion of Lighthouse Marine Park and Maple Beach a designated off-leash area.

Moyes responded the law in Whatcom County states dogs be on a leash on public property, and the sheriff’s office’s role was to enforce that law. “We’re not selective in deciding what we’re going to do, though we do have discretion,” he said. Moyes said the recent uptick in enforcement of the leash law was in response to complaints. “Someone shouldn’t have to worry about going to a park that is a leashed area and dealing with off-leash dogs,” he said.

However, when Lesow asked if any citations were issued in response to a specific complaint about a dog, McCarthy said they were not. “I just drive around,” he said.

Moyes said that in the last three months deputies had issued 17 tickets for speeding, 16 stop sign violations and 11 dog-at-large citations out of a total of 59 reports during that period.

Asked why they hadn’t made a greater effort to educate the public that the leash law, which has not been enforced on the Point, was going to be strictly enforced prior to handing out tickets, McCarthy said from the time he started as the Point’s resident deputy in June until Labor Day he had given out warnings.

“You see people walking right past the signs and then you hear, ‘It’s just Point Roberts, we do this.’ Nobody listens. Nobody cares,” McCarthy said. “I looked at that and said OK, fine. Under new management. You can only tell your kid to clean up their room or do the dishes so many times before you have to do something.” He added since the rash of ticketing he has seen a sharp decrease in off-leash dogs.

McCarthy also suggested dogs have plenty of places to swim off-leash on the Point. “There are only three public beaches in Point Roberts,” he said, while the rest are privately owned. “The leash law does not apply [to the private beaches].”

An audience member suggested going from “zero to 100 percent” enforcement was excessive when “generally, things weren’t broken.” McCarthy responded that despite the outcry from dog owners, many community members had thanked him. “I think there were lots of problems with dogs,” he said. Pola Krnan agreed.

“I’ve been attacked, I’ve been made fun of,” Krnan said.

“We do need to have a place for dogs to run,” said Carol Fuegi with the Point Roberts Animal Welfare Society. PRCAC will pursue designating sections of county parks off-leash areas or establishing off-leash times.

At their October 14 meeting local parks commissioners also discussed off-leash options for Baker Field.

  1. I do agree with some sort of leash law for the Point. I am a dog owner and most times on public property, our dog is leashed. How the law is applied in Point Roberts is unknown. It has been stated that the leash law does not apply to private property. I believe this statement may be a bit of an issue. I believe that in Washington state the public has the right to access or walk on any or all beaches, private or public. The public can walk on beach, but not stop or picnic . If this is true, then it would seem that all beach land, including privately owned is basically public land and the leash law would apply. If this is not true, then we probably have a much bigger issue of Tresspass, should somebody decide to enforce it.On any sunny weekend, there is dozens of dogs running unleashed on the tidelands. Are these dogs and owners breaking the leash law or Tresspass law?

  2. From what I gather in my very frequent interactions with the public here on the Point, the issue is, has been, and will always be that the ‘dog problem’ has nothing to do with dogs, but it is dog owners. They come in two sizes – responsible, and the irresponsible.

    Look.., if a dog just jumped into my BLT and potato salad, as I relax in my folding lawn chair to try and enjoy a peaceful sunset at Lighthouse Park, I don’t particularly care if this animal is just showing his love, and has never harmed anyone. How can I know that? No one can make that sort of judgement in split seconds… But if that animal is under leashed, control of it’s owner, any reasonable citizen could at least feel that his safety, personal space, and his sandwich are secure…or at least the owner is making the effort. I support Sherrif Tom 100%. The law is clear on these issues…let’s just be kind and thoughtful to one another, please leash rover until we can agree on a designated off-leash area. As for me and my family, we will respectably avoid any designated off leash areas, as I believe they truly have a purpose, just as LEASH REQUIRED areas have theirs (legally).


    U. T.

  3. Many police dept.s must issue tickets and charge fees in order to financially support their stations in America. I wonder if this is at play now here in Point Roberts.

  4. It blows my mind that people have an issue with leashing your dog. It’s good for everybody. Why people need warnings when they’re signs posted amazes me. I do agree that a place like Maple beach should be leash free. But lighthouse park and other public parks should have leash laws to protect all dogs and owners. All other cities in whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish county have the same rules. Point Roberts is a special place but shouldn’t be treated differently.

    • Where do we draw the line? Why is it suggested that beaches remain leash free? Do sunbathers not have the right to feel safe? This summer my friend and her 2 year old grandson were “rushed” twice, on separate days by the same Pit Bull. Both times the owner, who was many yards away sunning on a lawn chair, hollered “oh he’s okay”. The dog was totally out of her control, he could have attacked rather than just run up to them.

      So let’s be consistent. Until we get a dog park, either they must be on leash everywhere or they can be at large everywhere. I’m a dog owner myself and my dog loves nothing more than the freedom to run around but I keep her leashed to keep her safe.

  5. With more that a few years of law enforcement under my belt (all in the distant past I may add) I had a distinct shudder of déjà vu to part of that past in “Unorganized area’s” I used to kinda hunker down and point to my shoulder flashes and ask gently if it said anywhere on my uniform “Dog Catcher?” cause that’s the only real answer. It’s a we..they…situation that’s unwinnable by either side in the grand scheme of things. My dog doesn’t ever, has not, nor will ever cause an issue. But it’s always someones dog isn’t it. Someone else’s dog.
    Publicity helps and I sense from my great experience that has been accomplished.
    There was a “Disturbance in the Force” as Obi-wan once said.
    Let’s all blame it on the “New Guy”

  6. I’ve had three incidents of being chased by dogs on the Point, one of those involved two dogs. Since the first encounter I’ve carried dog repellent and have had to use it twice to prevent attacks. All dogs were at large and without supervision. Well done Sheriff and I’d love to see more speed enforcement on Tyee.

  7. I don’t know what this statement by Dep. Moyes means: “We’re not selective in deciding what we’re going to do, though we do have discretion,” It seems like a contradiction to me. Perhaps he could explain.


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