VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - There are 46 new signs up along the beach access, spanning from 44th to 89th Streets along the North End. In the bottom right hand corner: a photo of Petey, a toy poodle that was killed a few years ago by another dog on the beach.
"Never saw this big dog coming. He just came out of nowhere. He just grabbed him [Petey] by the back of the neck," recalled Glenn Nacey.
It was Christmas Day in 2015, and the weather was warm. Nacey said he decided it was a good day for an afternoon walk. He added the owner of the dog attacking Petey wasn't close by.
"I was on him and knocked him down. Pry his jaws open to get the little guy out," he said.
Unfortunately, Petey died, but the community wanted to make sure he wouldn't be forgotten. Gayle Johnson said the community couldn't believe what had happened to Petey.
"The community response to that was just uproar. You can imagine on Christmas Day to have your dog mauled to death," said Johnson.
So she started the group Neighbors for a Safer Beach and wanted to find ways to make sure everyone would be comfortable at the beach. After working with the city, police and animal control for nearly three years, 46 new signs have been installed by the city.
"Yay, finally!" was the reaction Johnson first had. Then, "and now the work begins."
Johnson said the City of Virginia Beach said the signs are a way to remind dog owners of the current rules. Nothing has changed.
The sign reads:
- Dogs may be off leash only on the beach and only if handler maintains visual and vocal control at all times. An off-leash dog must return to handler reliably and quickly in spite of distractions.
- Leash dog immediately at the sign of fearful, anxious, aggressive or out of control behavior.
- Keep dogs from running up to unfamiliar people, leashed dogs or unfamiliar dogs unless they have been invited.
- If a fight breaks out, pull dogs apart from the back. Call Animal Control at 757-385-5000 Ext 2
- From Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day, dogs are allowed on the residential beaches north of 42nd Street only before 10:00 A.M. and after 6:00 P.M.
- Always pick up after your dog and carry an empty container at all times.
Johnson believes it's up to the community to keep dog owners in check.
"Dog owners must be aware of that and be respectful of other people's rights to enjoy the beach," said Johnson.
Nacey said he never thought he would get another toy poodle, but after a little while, he decided to get Sunny and never looked back. He hopes the new signs will make people aware of what the existing laws are and help people safeguard their small dogs.
"It was a strange feeling to see him 2 1/2 years later out in the public posting like that. Brought back a lot of memories but even though it's cliche, I hope that maybe something good can come out of his death. And other people will be more aware," said Nacey.