If you think Myrtle Beach's animal laws are confusing, just imagine how your dog must feel. Our four-legged friends don't understand terms like "custody" and "jurisdiction"; they just want to run and play on the beach and have a good time with their owners.
It's up to the humans to understand where your dog can and cannot go, and when they can go there. Understanding the laws in the area you are visiting depends on where and when you are staying. The laws can vary greatly from town to town, even from block to block.
Guests at the Breakers Resort are within the city limits of Myrtle Beach, which means no dogs on the beach from May 1 through Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dogs must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet.
But if you venture outside the area surrounding the Breakers (the city limits extend about 5 miles north and south of the property) for a day of beach exploring with Fido, you may need to check the laws of neighboring municipalities for specific guidelines.
North Myrtle Beach's "no dogs allowed" period runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and hour later than Myrtle Beach's, from May 15 to Sept. 15. To the south, Surfside Beach's ban uses the same dates but runs around the clock. In between, there are pockets of unincorporated Horry County, which have the same 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. time, but different dates (June 1-Sept. 1). The applicable times are posted at all public beach accesses.
Owners are required to clean up after their dogs, as is the case on or off the beach. Many public beach accesses provide plastic bag dispensers for convenience, and there are trash cans at all beach accesses and along the beachfront. To add to the confusion, the minimum leash length in those areas is 7 feet, not 6 like in Myrtle Beach proper.
However, there are several dog parks located along the Grand Strand where owners are allowed to let their dogs run loose without a leash. The city of Myrtle Beach has two of the best on opposite ends of town that are popular places for pups and people to play.
Located in the Market Common section of town on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, the biggest and busiest dog park features a large pond in the middle of the fenced-in field where dogs can go swimming and fetch after floating objects thrown by their owners.
On the north end of town in the Ocean Forest section, the Grand Strand YMCA has a nice shady spot with trails and segregated sections for small and large dogs. Both feature water stations where Fido can cool down after running around with the rest of the pack.
The newest and most interesting dog park recently opened at the North Myrtle Beach Sports and Recreation Complex. Featuring the equipment used in doggie obstacle courses, owners can run their pets through the paces, or just turn them loose and let dogs be dogs. The city of Surfside Beach has a small park but requires a local license for $10.
There are several pet-friendly businesses where dogs are welcome, such as Barefoot Landing (outdoors only) and the PetSmart Outlet at Coastal Grand Mall. Some open-air restaurants permit dogs to sit in the patio area. Service dogs are allowed anywhere.
For guests looking to get out for the day without their dogs, there are several kennels and dog-watching services available. Or drop them off at the doggie day spa for a shampoo and clip while you enjoy some time in the human world and take a break from Fido.