His actual title may be code enforcement officer, but to the visitors and residents of Dewey Beach, Vince Carannande is the dog ambassador.
Sporting his signature drawstring bucket hat, Carannande cruises the town’s one-mile stretch of sand in a Gator, selling dog licenses to owners and dispensing treats to pups.
Carannande has many “regulars” - dogs who spot the familiar green-and-yellow ATV and stop for a snack. One regular with a nose for sand crabs routinely hunts his own treats by digging holes in the sand; Carannande helps the owner fill the hole with a shovel while the dog rinses his critter in the surf.
“Everyone says I have the best job,” said Carannande, a six-year code enforcement employee. “It’s fun, and it’s great to get to know all the regulars on the beach.”
Dewey is one of the few beaches on the East Coast to allow dogs off leash when licensed by the town and under control of their owners. From May 15 through Sept. 15, dogs are permitted on the beach before 9:30 a.m. and after 5:30 p.m.
The rest of the year, licensed dogs are allowed on the beach anytime.
In March, town commissioners approved purchasing the Gator, allowing Carannande to better enforce town regulations and sell licenses on the spot; he is equipped with a card reader and also accepts cash. Previously, owners had to leave the beach to purchase licenses at a kiosk or town hall.
In the first year selling licenses on the beach, dog tag sales have tripled, said Parking and Code Enforcement Supervisor Merle Leonard. Licenses are required year-round and owners must clean up after their dogs; violators are fined.
Many times owners are unaware dogs need licenses issued by the town, Carannande said. By meeting people in the best of circumstances - on the beach with their pups - owners are very cooperative about buying the license, he said.
Carannande also provides a pamphlet detailing dog safety information, including symptoms of heat stroke, when to walk dogs to avoid burned paw pads, and to never leave a dog unattended in a vehicle.
Three-day dog licenses are $5, eight-day licenses are $10 and lifetime permits are $35. New this year is a $50 limited-edition lifetime dog tag that comes with a souvenir tag; 88 of the limited-edition tags have already been sold, Town Manager Bill Zolper said.
The town uses proceeds from dog license sales to provide free waste clean up bags at each beach entrance.
For details about dog regulations and licenses, go to townofdeweybeach.com.