By Gary and Sandy Elliott
Half of the condos on Marco Island welcome owner’s pets. Each pet-friendly condo has unique rules about the weight, size, number and type of pet allowed. For instance, some condos require a dog to be under 8 or 17 or 25 pounds. Some have height limitations like 17 inches to the shoulder. Some condos have no weight restrictions.
We could not find any condos that allow renters to bring their pets with them. Generally, renters with pets will have to rent a house, stay at the Boat House Motel or use the services of the Critter Café Pet Resort to board their animals while vacationing on the island.
Condo owners must follow Collier County’s rules and regulations for pets. All pets must be on a leash when off the owner’s property, be up to date on their vaccinations and have a license if they are here longer than six months. Licenses can be picked up at local veterinarian offices for $15 per year, if your pet is less than a year old or neutered or spayed; otherwise it is $65 per year. Collier County does not allow dogs on any beach, park or school grounds. Dogs are not allowed on playing fields or children’s play areas at Marco’s parks, but they are allowed to be on a leash up to eight feet long on walkways and parking areas.
Canine Cove is a great place for Marco Island dog owners. The Cove is totally enclosed with two large areas enabling dogs to run freely — big dogs over 25 pounds in one area andsmall dogs in the other. It is easily accessible at the intersection of Heathwood and Lily Court inside Mackle Park. A delightful vista overlooking the lake, comfortable benches, lush verdant grassy areas and specially prepared mulch patches provide dogs and their owners a great place to frolic and relax. There are fire hydrants for the pets, port-a-johns for humans and water for all. Biodegradable mutt mitts are provided to pick up after the dogs.
One of the island’s veterinarians, James Bowen at the Island Animal Hospital at 860 Bald Eagle, confirms that cats are all about the environment and dogs are all about the people. Cats need visual experiences from the balconies and windows of condos. Without these natural vistas and views, cats become emotionally distressed and more susceptible to diseases. Dogs, on the other hand, need lots or exercise and proper diets to prevent obesity and all the medical issues that come about if the dog is overweight. Bowen notes that because of our tropical environment and abundant vegetation animals are twice as likely to have allergies and itchy skin as up north.
Among the pet-friendly restaurants on the island is CJ’s on the Bay at the Esplanade. Chef Laura confirms that when dogs arrive they are seated in the outdoor area and served a bowl of water while their owners have a drink at the bar or enjoy lunch or dinner. CJ’s has been host to cat parties to celebrate the arrival of a new litter and birthday parties for dogs featuring a hamburger with a candle. Most of the island restaurants with outdoor seating welcome pets.