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Cape May Ponders Allowing Dogs on Mall

By Vince Conti

CAPE MAY – During Cape May City Council’s Feb. 2 work session, Councilman Chris Bezaire raised a perennial discussion issue in the city: Should dogs be allowed on the Washington Street Mall? 

In 2019, the city’s Pet Advisory Committee made permitting dogs on the mall one of its three recommendations for making the city more pet friendly (http://bit.ly/3axubcc). City rules prohibit dogs on the mall, but the ordinance is poorly enforced. 

One argument for modifying the current rules is that uneven enforcement causes hard feelings.  

As the advisory committee noted, one dog owner can be told to remove their pet from the mall, while other dogs are visible in the area. The committee pointed to several other municipalities where dogs are allowed in the business district without incident. 

Those who opposed dogs on the often-congested Cape May shopping area do so from a concern for public safety. “Not all dogs are friendly,” Councilwoman Stacy Sheehan offered, adding, “I don’t want to see anyone get bit by a dog.” 

Bezaire suggested “tweaking the ordinance” to allow dogs on a leash during the offseason, much as the city does with the beaches and Promenade. Sheehan noted that even in the offseason, the mall can be very congested on weekends. 

The discussion ended with no resolution of the issue. For now, the signage telling dog owners their pets are not allowed on the mall will remain, as will, most probably, the dogs. 

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