As part of a review of the animal services ordinance, Santa Rosa County commissioners discussed Monday allowing dogs on a leash to splash in the Santa Rosa Sound on county-owned property near the Navarre Beach utility.

MILTON — You may be able to avoid the guilt of leaving your dog locked in your hotel room or at home while you romp around Navarre Beach.

As part of a review of the animal services ordinance, Santa Rosa County commissioners discussed Monday allowing dogs on a leash to splash in the Santa Rosa Sound on county-owned property near the Navarre Beach utility.

Dog lovers, like Trudy Adams, want to join other dog friendly beaches in Northwest Florida, such as the Panama City Beach dog playground and sugar-white Gulf County beaches touted by Visit Florida.

She walked the beach on the sound side and gulf side recently between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m. The proposed ordinance includes the time restriction to avoid tourists and other beach visitors.

“(The beach is) not populated at those times,” Adams reported to the 5-member commission. “It’s very quiet. We’re not going to be like out there in midday.”

Caroline Stahala with the Francis M. Weston Audubon Society also weighed in on the issue. Her concern was preventing dogs from disturbing bird nesting and other sensitive beach wildlife. She suggested the gulf side on the eastern end of the beach near the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Bob Cole, the District 2 commissioner, suggested a trial period at the sound side location. He opposed allowing dogs on the Gulf side.

“If we’re constantly sending someone out to pick up (poop) — something we’re doing that dog owners should do — then we nix the program,” Cole said.

Dave Piech, who represents Navarre Beach as the District 4 commissioner, said since dog owners must pay a $40 fee annually to license their dogs under the new ordinance, he doubted that would be a problem. Those who own spayed or neutered dogs would pay $15 annually for a license. Meanwhile, seniors would pay $8 a year but their dogs must be altered.

Piech said he likes the voluntary dog licensing program because it helps them enjoy the beach with all their "family" members.

“I look at it as extra insurance policy,” Piech said. “Mine are micro-chipped but I still would like to have tags on them just in case. I hope people will see the benefit of this and they’ll participate in it.”

The commission's next step is to schedule a public hearing on the revised animal services ordinance and whether to allow dogs at Navarre Beach.

Walton County

Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach between the hours of 3:30 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. A permit is required and there is a $40 annual fee.

Panama City Beach dog playground

This Northwest Florida beach offers more than 400 feet of beachfront space on powder-white sands in turquoise waters for leashed dogs to enjoy, located at the southern beach end of Pier Park, west of City Pier. A hose on the boardwalk is available to help rinse off dogs following playtime. Afterward, stroll through and stop at any number of outdoor pet-friendly restaurants throughout Pier Park. It's one of the best dog-friendly beaches in Florida.

Gulf County

This one's easy: All beaches, except those of St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, are dog-friendy. You and the mutt can enjoy emerald waters and sugar-sand shorelines.