HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Thousands of dog owners are asking New York to lift the dog ban at state park beaches.

They say waterfront access is critical to the health and wellness of people and their pets, but not everyone agrees.

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“It drives me crazy that I can’t take my dogs to the most important recreational resource on Long Island — its beaches,” said Ginny Munger Kahn, president of the Long Island Dog Owners Group.

Munger Kahn is counting petitions — 3,600 strong so far.

She and her group are asking for equal beach rights for their four-legged friends.

“We support the parks with our tax dollars, and to be denied access … it’s just not right,” said LI Dog member Peggy Heijmen.

Dogs are banned from New York State Parks’ sand and surf.

“This is the biggest island in the country with the most waterfront, and that’s the one place we can’t go,” said LI Dog member Michael Kahn.

The state says “banning dogs from beaches is based on longstanding concerns over sanitary issues, impact on native wildlife … uncollected dog waste, aggressive incidents between dogs and beach patrons.”

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But LI Dog doesn’t want to go where sunbathers and swimmers relax. They want a special beach area away from the crowds.

“What we are looking for is access to non-lifeguarded beaches and coastal areas or seashore areas that would be appropriate for people with dogs,” Munger Kahn told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.

Long Islanders have mixed opinions about opening beaches up to animals.

“They don’t clean up after their dogs, you’ll have it everywhere,” one man said.

“I have no problem as long as he has a scooper with him,” another said.

“I don’t feel like anybody’s pet should be on the beach,” another person said.

The state says in recent years, access for dog owners has been expanded at non-beachfront areas of state parks.

“Dogs are members of the family. They’re furry members,” Munger Kahn said.

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She believes beach time without family is a wrong that should be righted.

Jennifer McLogan