NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- It's October 1 and that means some local beach towns are changing their policies for the fall and winter. Monday is a big day for dog owners in Wrightsville Beach. Dogs are now allowed on the beach as long as they're on a leash. This is just one of a few changes starting today in local towns. Brad Henson, his girlfriend and his dog Cody have been waiting for this day for a while Henson said, "Taking my dog out on the beach. It's the first day we can take him and he's been looking forward to it all year." As long as owners have their pet on a leash -- and bring something with them to clean up after them -- dogs are now welcome on Wrightsville Beach. Henson said, "I come down to the beach a lot and Cody loves to come down. I'll come down to check the surf and he just gets to ride with me. I can't bring him out on the beach. Now he'll be able to come out on the beach and check the surf out with me." Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Bob Simpson said, "We try to be responsive to the local residents, too, and they have pets. Simpson says he plans to take his dogs out on the beach. Another noticeable change around town: fewer lifeguards on duty. There are four guarded beaches in Wrightsville Beach until October 15. Then there will be roving patrols throughout the year. Simpson said, "We try to be a kind and friendly community and accommodate everybody. Sometime you can't do that and that's a reality." Simpson says since the tourist season lasts through October you must pay for parking until the end of the month. In Carolina Beach, though, paying to park ends Monday. Dogs aren't allowed on the beach there for another month. The lifeguards have been off-duty since Labor Day. In Wrightsville Beach the area off Stone Street is one of the four guarded beaches for the next two weeks. The others are directly north and south of Johnny Mercer's Pier, and south of Crystal Pier. Dog owners and their pets in other local beach towns can enjoy the beaches, as well. In Holden Beach dogs are allowed on the beach after Labor Day as long as they're on a leash. Surf City allows leashed dogs on the beach all year round. Dogs are allowed on the beach in Topsail Beach all year round and must be on a leash during the summer months. And in North Topsail Beach dogs have to be on a leashed all year round.
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