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But Shewman didn't forget it. Instead, he and Garrison wrote letters to Imperial Beach officials, complaining about the incident and general lack of enforcement of the leash requirement. Imperial Beach's city manager, Gary Brown, called Shewman back. "He seemed like a nice guy," Shewman recalls, "but nothing came of it."

Garrison, who's taught school for 38 years and lived on the beach for 5 years, says, "I see as many dogs off leashes as on, probably more. Just taking walks along here, unleashed dogs come bounding right straight at me. I have been nipped at before, not broken the skin but scared the heck out of me. And people just say, 'Sorry, sorry.' My husband has had German shepherds, pit bulls, and rottweilers come bounding up. And every time I take a walk down there, there are dog piles sitting right in the sand."

Her neighbor, Dick Howe, has grown so irritated with dog piles on the sand in front of his house that he's taken to giving plastic bags to people who don't pick up after their dogs. "They usually come up with an excuse," he says chuckling, "something like, 'Oh, thanks. I forgot to bring one.'

"The other day," Howe continues, "I walked out there with my two dogs. There was a dog in the ocean without a leash. And when he saw me coming, its owner went toward the dog. At that point, I knew that the dog wasn't too nice. Sure enough, the dog came running for me and came that close to biting me. If he had come one more step after one of my little dogs, I would have kicked the shit out of him. I told the owner, 'You get that dog on a leash.' "

Garrison worries that Imperial Beach is in danger of gaining a reputation -- if it doesn't already have one -- for lax rules regarding dogs on the beach. "If you go to Coronado," she says, "you know you have to keep your dog on a leash or you are going to be fined. So people think, 'Hey, let's go to IB, nobody cares.' "

"Nobody cares" is the feeling Cartman has about her barking-dog dilemma. In addition to talking to the offending neighbor and calling the sheriff -- Imperial Beach doesn't have its own police department -- she's written letters and placed phone calls to the Imperial Beach City Council, the city attorney and, when she felt the city attorney was unresponsive to her needs, to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. Animal control officers have been to her house and, Cartman says, have agreed that there is a problem. But animal control and the city attorney's office could never coordinate efforts well enough to prosecute the matter. The barking continues, and Cartman is selling her house. "I don't know what else to do," she says.

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