Public warned to keep their dogs away from seals at the Jersey Shore

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center says that beachgoers should keep their dogs leashed and at least 150 feet away from seals.

Joti Rekhi

Apr 20, 2024, 1:02 AM

Updated 36 days ago


The Marine Mammal Stranding Center wants dog owners to leash all dogs at the Deal Lake Drive Beach at Asbury Park after they say a seal who was trying to rest was harassed by unleashed dogs.
“I’ve seen whales. I’ve seen a shark or two. I’ve seen dolphins and various types of birds. I’ve never seen a seal,” said longtime Asbury Park resident, Jim Condos.
Condos walks his Yorkie every morning at the boardwalk and dog beach.
“I’m not saying they’re not around because a lady I bumped into on the boardwalk said she saw one off the jetty a couple of weeks ago. So I’m not saying they’re not around, but I really don’t think there’s any issue,” said Condos.
The Stranding Center said the seal was transported to their center for observation and wasn’t injured. She has now been moved to a more remote beach.
“Sometimes people let their dogs roam and they’re not really watching what they’re doing,” said Valerie Lasko, of Asbury Park. “I think it’s a good idea to be mindful when there are seals out there.”
A Facebook post by the Stranding Center calling for dog owners to keep dogs leashed and at least 159 feet away from seals at all times has gone viral with several comments and shares. Signs posted at the Asbury Park Dog Beach allow for dogs to be unleashed if they’re being properly supervised.
Julia Weiner, of Neptune, regularly comes to the dog beach with both of her dogs.
“The biggest thing for me and my dogs is that I try to follow them wherever they’re going. I have pretty good recall on them,” said Weiner. “Or if I don’t have a good recall on my older one, I’ll keep the leash on while I follow him. So he has some range to roam but I can quickly get him.
Having a good recall and using a leash are just some things dog trainer, Nicole Costanza recommends.
“If you happen to come across an animal like a seal on the beach, I would immediately recall your dog back and put them on the leash. Then give the seal a lot of space,” said Costanza, Big Momma’s Dog Training. “Then, just lead your dog away from a safe distance. When you feel like you are far enough from the seal or other animals, the. I would feel safe taking your dog off the leash.”
The Marine Mammal Stranding Center’s post also states that a dog will smell a seal at a distance well before his human companion will spot one. No matter how good you think your dog's recall is, instincts can take over.
Size, breed, age - none of that matters to a seal when it is bitten and infection sets in. Likewise, seals pose a major risk to your dogs, exposing them to serious diseases and nasty bite wounds.
“Even though our dogs are domesticated, they’re still animals,” said Costanza. “They could react negatively to the seal, especially if they get startled. We don’t know what they’re going to do. Especially the seal. If the seal is injured or sick, we don’t know if the seal is going to hurt our dogs.”
If anyone spots a seal while on the beach, Stranding Center reminds them to please keep their distance and remember to call Stranding Center’s 24-hour hotline at 609-266-0538 so that trained Stranding Technicians may assess the animal's health and safety.

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