Welcome to Bay Families with Dogs
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Shell Island Information
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Map to our location.

Original Plat of the Spanish Ante Subdivision, Shell Island

Spanish Ante Aerial View

Click Here to Sign the Petition!

Majority of Voters Say YES to Dogs on Shell Island. more...

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Click here to see our pictures from Shell Island! Email us to add your own.
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Our Position Paper: Families With Dogs at Shell Island
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Editorial, Panama City News Herald July 29, 2006
Additional Documents
Panama City News Herald
Opinion Letters

  • 6/30 Dog Owners Ask for Leniency more...

  • 7/09 Let the Dogs Out more...

  • 7/12 30 to Life at Raiford more...

  • 7/12 Protect People Not Sand more...

  • 7/12 So There more...

  • 7/30 Canary Dogs more...

  • 8/15 Shell Island's Private Property more...

  • 8/16 Letter for Ringo more ...

  • 2/01 Shell Island "one pager requested by Representative Jimmy Patronis for use in Tallahassee with public officials." more...

  • 5/25 Defending Shell Island more...

  • 6/07 Consider all at Stake more...

  • 6/14 Dogs are Not the Only more...

  • 6/15 Local Pet-Friendly Places in Short Supply more...

  • 7/26 Dogs Welcome in Gulf County more...

  • Bay Families with Dogs' Letter to Friends of St. Andrew State Park (offering volunteer assistance to protect wildlife at Shell Island)

  • See obedient dogs on video at Shell Island here!

  • "Dogs Need Weekends, Too!" A delightful, award-winning ad from the Discover Boating campaign, perfectly captures the spirit and joy of boating with your dog.

  • A Dog-Friendly Shell Island Business - The "Snacks and Stuff" vendor boat at Shell Island is a dog-friendly business. Make sure and say hi to their dog, "Curly Sue" when you stop by to make your purchase of some sunscreen, a soda or a hat.

    They can be contacted
    at 867-BOAT.

    Snacks and Stuff Boat

    Curly Sue - Snack Dog
    The dedicated members and loyal supporters of Bay Families with Dogs had a historic year in 2006 for Shell Island. The summer began with armed policemen issuing criminal citations to peaceful families out for a day of relaxation at the beach. Our voices came together and we have been heard by our Public officials. at the County and State level. We will work with them as needed to help create a sensible plan for continuing our chosen form of recreation on our island. Dog lovers and their dogs now enjoy the residential subdivision in the middle of the island without reprisal by state park officials. This subdivision has private lots and public roads throughout, which the state has now acknowledged is not under their jurisdiction. Please see attached maps to understand the island's road system. As always, please obey any signs marking any property off limits. The news reports, articles and letters displayed here chronicle our story as we rose from being victimized innocents to becoming a voice in the community:

  • June 21: WJHG - Breaks Story - Shell Island Crackdown Up to 60 days in jail for dogs, alcohol. Locals accused. more...

  • June 28: WJHG - Debut of Bay Families with Dogs Individual freedoms being taken away. Organization seeks reasonable, sensible solution. more...

  • July 7: WJHG - Bay County Commissioners Vote to Support Citizens
    They weigh in on the side of Man's Best Friend. more...

  • July 14: Panama City News Herald "Dog Lovers Shell Shocked"
    Dog lovers get parole officers. The "heavy hand of government". more...

  • July 17: WMBB - Grassroots Group Stepping up for Canine Companions. Armed police patrol the island. Citizens ask for reasonable solution. more...

  • July 20: WMBB - Bay Families with Dogs say no signs posted. Reporter doesn't find them on the island. Patrol officer insinuates that dogs were creating damage but does not provide proof. more...

  • July 20: Bay Times Journal. Local Grassroots Organization Gaining Ground Against Big Government more...

  • July 22: WMBB - Gubernatorial Candidate tours Shell Island, tells State to spend tax dollars more wisely. more...

  • Sept 2: Bay Families with Dogs on the Jim Wilson Outdoor Show. - Discusses the special place that dogs hold in the lives of humankind.

  • Sept 2: Panama City News Herald, "Dog Daze". - Private property owner assists cause for freedom at Shell Island. more...

  • Sept 3: WMBB "Who Let the Dogs Out?" - Bay Families with Dogs holds fund raising, beach cleanup activities on Shell Island. Courtesy of private property owner who believes in the cause. more...

  • Sept 8: Bay Times Journal: "Pecking Away at our Rights" more...

  • Sept 12: Bay Times Journal Editorial: "German UBoat Commanders". - First they came for the dogs... more...

  • Sept 12: WMBB - Shell Island Public Meeting. Many concerns expressed about state interference with the world's "oldest friendship". more...

  • Sept 13: Panama City News Herald "Dog Owners Bark at Park Service". Most of those who spoke asked the Park Service to work with residents to accommodate recreation with dogs. more...

  • Sept 19:Bay Times Journal "Shell Island Meeting Reveals New Policies" Documents the reversal of the "400 foot rule" and allowances for recreation on wet sand and in the water. more...

  • Oct 25: Lee Sullivan Show Interview with Bay Families with Dogs.
    • Part I: : Discussion on taxpayers dollars expended for patrols of peaceful citizens;
    • Part II: : Holding accusers accountable to prove any harm; creating a "fake crisis" is not the way to enact change;
    • Part III:: Pictures of the offenders; reminiscing on the good old days with Lassie.

  • Nov 2: Lee Sullivan Show and Captain Bob Zales. - Captain Zales pushed back on the state's mythical "400 foot rule". Discusses Shell Island and the shameful specter of over regulation. more...

  • Jan 24: DEP answers in writing with the new, more limited scope for park rule enforcement at Shell Island.

    DEP Park Planning Director Albert Gregory sent the following in an email to Bay Families with Dogs on 2/24/07 ... continue reading

  • March 27: News Herald Article "Canine Controversy Heats Up" documents new State Park boundary rules and continued work toward a permanent solution.

  • April 21: News Herald Article "Quest for Dog Friendly Beach Continues"

  • April 21: WMBB Newscast - Shell Island Cleanup

  • May 11: WJHG Victory for Bay Families with Dogs - State Park rules decriminalized

  • May 17: News Herald Article "Shell Island Rules Softening" The recent passage of the bill marks a victory to decriminalize State Park rule violations throughout Florida.

  • May 26: WJHG Channel 7 - Families with Dogs are enjoying Shell Island again thanks to Bay Families with Dogs

  • June 28: Governor Crist Vetos Decriminalization Bill, more information here... more

  • June 29: News Herald Article - "Crist Veto May Lose its Bite" quotes park officials indicating a more reasonable policy, with charges only for serious offenses.

  • July 13: Bay Families with Dogs on The Burnie Thompson Show, Talk 101.1, Northwest Florida's FM Talk Station. Discussing the birds of Shell Island and sensible solutions to preserve them without restricting recreational access for all people who love Shell Island, whether they have dogs or not. With listener participation.
  • July 16: The Burnie Thompson Show, Talk 101.1, Northwest Florida's FM Talk Station. Burnie discusses the "plover", a bird whose protection around the country has caused government entities to restrict beach access for campers, kite flyers, fireworks enthusiasts, or even to ban people completely.

  • July 1, 2008: Success! State Park Rule Violations Decriminalized! Bay Families with Dogs, working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, helped get the law passed that makes a ticket a civil infraction (like a traffic ticket), no longer a criminal misdemeanor. It made the front page of the local Panama City News Herald, and a favorable mention by its Editorial Board on the Op-Ed page. Click below to read both!

    » News Herald Shell Island Rules Change
    » News Herald Editorial Relaxing the Rules

    Park Clarifications and Locations to Visit
    Friday, May 15, 2009

    Bay Families with Dogs has spoken with the management of St. Andrew State Park, and have the following update for you on our latest status with the park system:

    The park service has expressed in writing that it believes that parks are for the citizens' enjoyment, and does not wish to create negative incidents such as the one that occurred here in 2006. They have implemented procedures to be clearer about the issue of dogs and Shell Island. If you call the St. Andrews State Park, or talk to a park representative, you should receive a consistent response. Their position is that the park has made a management decision to not allow dogs on the portions of Shell Island that they own. But via email correspondence, they stated that they should also acknowledge that in the center of the island, where there is a residential subdivision, the county roads, county lots and private lots are not park property and therefore park rules do not apply there. They also acknowledge that the park boundary ends at the mean high tide line, which means park rules do not apply on wet sand or in the water.

    Danny Jones, NW Florida Parks Bureau Chief who is in charge, confirmed to us that he has spoken with park law enforcement, who said they would employ a 'user-firendly' approach, with education as the first step, not ticketing. He said they'd talk to a dog owner only if there are blatant violations and/or the dog is obviously out of control, with a warning versus a ticket, if it is not a repeat offender. He also said they would need to be certain the dog was on state property before they engaged. And remember, tickets are now non-criminal infractions (like traffic tickets).

    If you receive any treatment that is different than what he has described to me in the above statements, Danny wants to hear from you. He can be reached at 850-233-5110. Please let us know at Bay Families with Dogs, too.

    The private property and county roads are in the center of the island, where the two docks are located. County roads are fifty feet wide and run all the way across to the Gulf of Mexico. (Maps are shown here on the website). The roads are not marked, creating that uncertainty as to whether you would be on a road or on a state park lot. This is the area we have been visiting with our dogs without incident since 2006.

    Please be respectful of the park's rules, and have everyone in your party avoid areas marked off as bird nesting areas. Also, as always, please pick up after your dog! We have installed a pet waste station on the westernmost dock to help everyone be good citizens.

    We would like to thank the State Park Service for working with us in a cooperative way. This is a major improvement from the relationship we had with them in 2006.

    Pet Friendly Ferry to Shell Island a Fundraising Success!
    Labor Day weekend 2009, Bay Families with Dogs partnered with the new St. Andrew Bay Ferry to hold "Picnic with Your Pooch", a special, two-day fundraising event providing pet-friendly ferry rides to Shell Island. Proceeds benefitted Bay Families with Dogs and the newly-formed Friends of Shell Island (www.friendsofshellisland.org).
    » Read the front-page News Herald story

    View the online photo gallery of Picnic with Your Pooch at the News Herald website, here:
    » www.emeraldcoastphotoseast.com

    Watch news coverage of Picnic with Your Pooch at WMBB, Channel 13, here:
    » www.panhandleparade.com

    And please join Friends of Shell Island, a new, more inclusive organizations for boaters, visitors, property owners and local businesses who wish to preserve Shell Island as the recreational destination that we have enjoyed for over a century. Go to www.friendsofshellisland.org to join.

    Picnic with Your Pooch at Shell Island!
    On Memorial Day Weekend 2010, Bay Families with Dogs held a fundraiser, "Picnic with Your Pooch", featuring a pet-friendly ride to Shell Island on the St. Andrew Bay Ferry. Thanks to all who put the word out or came along! Please remember that all of St. Andrew Bay Ferry's cruises are pet-friendly, and they make regularly scheduled weekday runs to Shell Island. You can contact them to find out their schedule and their rates by calling 850-441-0349, or looking on their website at www.sabferry.com. St. Andrew Bay Ferry can also do special chartered runs if you would like to get a group together to go.

    News Herald article, "A Dog's Day at the Beach":

    News Herald Photo Gallery:

    Channel 7, WMBB, "Picnic with Your Pooch" newscast: