Pawsitive Social Impact:
Creating Your Own Community Pawprints      

“There is no such thing as a bad dog, only an inconsiderate owner”

So you have a bone to pick. They’ve decided to ban our friendly critters from your local park, or keep them out of your favorite sidewalk cafes.  Sitting back and complaining won’t help the situation. If you want things to change, you need to take action. Here’s how we did it.


Miami Beach banned dogs on the beach walk.

Spring 2006: The new and beautiful beach walk located between 14th and 21st streets was nearing completion. The security service, hired by the city, began confronting individuals warning them that their dogs were not permitted on the walkway. A group of dog owners and pet enthusiasts became outraged. They began to plead their case to city officials. The city agreed to a 90-day, dog-friendly trial period.  During this time doggie dispensers were added along the path.

At the end of the trial period, dog owners were presented with a misleading Public Works survey that claimed: “dog feces were the major source of garbage on the walkway.” 

Our community banded together as WOOF Patrol. We unleashed our passion, proved that people – not dogs – were the problem and got the city to reverse its position.  Our paw prints are now available as a guide for others that face similar challenges in other places.

Why were dogs being banned on the beach walk?

Because city officials labeled dogs a “health” problem, pointing to poop as the culprit.

Our pooches got barking mad because the real issue was not dog feces. “Two legs, not four, are the perpetrators,” they explained.

We love our dogs and we listened to them.


What did we do?  (Our Community Pawprints)
We got passionate. We decided to become part of the solution, not the problem. Here are the steps we that we took:

1. On the walkway, we handed out flyers to dog owners and dog enthusiasts alerting them to the ban.
A Pawsitive Doggie Etiquette tagline was created. It served to identify our group and our group’s goals:

Pick Up & Leash Up
Keep Our Beaches and Cities
Bow-Wow Clean and Safe

3. The ordinance associated with the dog ban was researched.  Once the issue was understood, it was determined what city department needed to be approached to find a pawsitive resolution.
A petition was circulated and an email campaign put in place.  City officials were copied on all of our activities.  They began receiving daily input from voters, tourists, visitors and from businesses such as the Loews Hotel (a pet-friendly hotel with over 16 locations).  Restaurant owners, pet grooming places, supply stores and many other industry champions got on board along with schools, senior centers and hospitals (especially those with pet therapy programs).
After understanding what grounds the city had used to make their determination to ban dogs in the first place, a course of action was decided upon.  In our particular situation, the department of Public Works had done a survey claiming, “dog feces were the major source of garbage on the walkway.” We knew another side of the story that wasn’t being told.  After analyzing the survey, it was easy for us to conclude that the survey was miscalculated and inaccurate.  


6. Our group organized under the “WOOF Patrol” banner.  Combining our collective and unstoppable pooch passion with a campaign focused on education and awareness of well-bred doggie etiquette, we set a goal: Pawsitive Social Impact.

• We made t-shirts & caps that identified us and our mission.
• We numbered doggie dispensers along the walkway (1-9) and notified the city of Miami Beach Sanitation Department whenever they were empty.
• An informative report entitled: “Poop Confidentials: The Pawsitive Scoop on Poop” was sent on a monthly basis to city officials. It provided poop findings (which were few), safety concerns due to fast-riding bikers, a dirt-index of two-legged trash issues, environmental suggestions to protect the dunes and much more.
• At all times we thanked the city for working with us and impressed upon them our goal of having the beach walk become a permanent pet-friendly feature of Miami Beach.


7. As a group we went to city hall and presented photographs of the trash found on the beach walk along with doggie testimonials.
8. We didn’t stop there because our sense was that dogs were being unfairly picked on. We contacted the media, pet-friendly hotels, local businesses and asked them all to write letters on our behalf in support of permitting dogs on the beach walk.  Visitors, tourists and non-dog owners were also encouraged to email city officials to support our cause.
9. Events were organized to increase dog owner awareness of picking up after their dogs as well as leashing up.  WOOF Patrollers, if needed, would pick up after a negligent or inconsiderate owner (still do). Our mission became a local and national story of interest for the Miami Herald, The Washington Post, The SunPost papers and Animal Fair Magazine.
10. We continued to provide solutions and suggestions in order to help the city to be cleaner and safer. We asked for doggie dispensers to be filled on a regular basis and for additional garbage cans to be installed closer to the dispensers. Our aim was to make it inexcusable for dog owners to not pick up.
11. WOOF Patrol became the ears and eyes of the walkway. If the garbage cans were filled to capacity we called to let them know.  If there was someone hurt or if there seemed to be a dangerous situation unfolding, we reported our findings.

We never gave up and turned what began as a negative into a catchy phrase: “Pawsitive Scoop on Poop”. In fact, the information we provided which included Pet Safety Procedures during a hurricane and a list of 24 –hour Emergency Animal Hospitals, ended up becoming a resource for the city. Our efforts led to the law bring changed. Dogs are now permanently permitted to stroll on a special 7 block area of the beach walk


• Mobilize the dog community
• Reach out to dog-centric organizations and businesses that may provide insight and support
• Contact the media – press, TV, community publications – and get them interested in your cause
• Be professional; be passionate; be pawsitive

REMEMBER: At all times, remain pawsitive and never give up. Recognize challenges for what they really are; well disguised opportunities.