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Activist Starts Only Off-Leash Dog Beach in L.A. County

He doesn’t own a cellphone — yet he can call hundreds of people to action within hours. Sponsored by Grape-Nuts.

About this sponsorship: In honor of the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent of Mount Everest, Patch and Grape-Nuts are teaming up to highlight those who inspire people around them to climb their own mountains.

Community service organizer Justin Rudd stages environmental and charitable events throughout the year in his home of Long Beach and elsewhere. Most of it is done through his 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Community Action Team (CAT), and his Justin Rudd website. Although Rudd doesn’t own a cellphone and drives a 22-year-old car, the Ozark, Alabama-born activist and philanthropist has packed goodwill travel (Uganda, Kenya, Germany and Spain), good deeds (beach cleanups, clothing drives and spelling bees) and athletic events (marathons, mud runs and triathlons) into his 43 years.

This past Easter, for example, he collected and distributed more than 1,000 gift-filled Easter baskets for kids in need in Long Beach. And beginning in 2001, he launched an all-out campaign to establish a dog beach near his home in Belmont Shore.

Here’s how Rudd — whose motto is "explore, dream, discover" — sizes up his contributions.

Q. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve taken on? Or, what's a goal you're trying to achieve right now?

I organize more than 70 events, contests and programs each year in Long Beach, and each comes with challenges, limited finances and time. A few examples include: Operation Easter Basket, an annual collection and distribution of 1,300-1,700 Easter baskets filled with essentials for kids in need in the community. I’ve hosted a monthly 30-minute beach cleanup with an average of 150-200 volunteers in Long Beach for the last 14 years. And I started Rosie’s Dog Beach, the only off-leash dog beach in Los Angeles County. 

Q. What inspired you to take on this challenge? Or, how do you plan to achieve another goal?

When I set out to start a dog beach in 2001, I was living a block from a very underutilized beach. I wanted be able to take my bulldog, Rosie, there to play, and it was illegal. I knew that people did not go to the beach in Long Beach because there is a two-mile-long breakwater that prevents wave action, which doesn’t allow for natural filtration. My thought was, if people are not going to swim and play here, let’s let the dogs come and frolic.  

Q. Did you succeed? Or, what will you do when you succeed?

History was made on Sunday, June 24, 2001, when, for the first time in more than 30 years, dogs were permitted to play on a Long Beach city beach, despite complaints from nearby residents that the pooches left a mess behind when the day was done. In order to both comply and defy existing ordinances banning unleashed dogs, the city allowed some canine freedom on the beach in what was called a "special event" day. I organized that special event and hosted it, along with my bulldog, Rosie. Over the course of the next two years, I held 20-plus dog beach special events on various Sundays. Then, after a 15-month Rudd-led pilot program, daily beach off-leash access was granted in August 2003. That ended on Oct. 31, 2004, when the Long Beach City Council unanimously approved the permanent dog beach zone. This beach area was officially renamed "Rosie's Dog Beach" on Aug. 3, 2010, in honor of Rosie the bulldog, the dog who inspired this canine wonderland. It remains the only legal, off-leash dog beach in L.A. County.

Open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Rosie’s Dog Beach is located at 5000 East Ocean Blvd., in the Belmont Shore neighborhood of Long Beach. Among the rules, only one dog per adult. If you have two dogs, take a human friend.

Squigglemom, Trish Tsoi-A-Sue May 01, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Love this! Very cool, and I love the videos!
Lori Escalera May 01, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Justin is the best. He does the best things for people, dogs, and art!
Laura Tompkins May 01, 2013 at 04:41 PM
Justin is incredible and more attention should be paid to his work. Thank you for stories about people like Justin. It's welcome news to hear about people who are improving the world and the people around them, not blowing them up.
Max May 01, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Wonderful idea and success story! Kudos to Justin Rudd. If only this can be done here in Malibu! Most dog owners are courteous and thoughtful people (as are their doggies). When I walk the beaches along our beautiful coastline, I always pick up "people-droppings," such as plastic bottles, food wrappers, glass fragments and construction left-overs (pieces of wood, nails, brackets, etc.). [The same holds for our parks and baseball fields.] I realize that this is an uphill battle, for I am well aware of the yeomen efforts that are taken simply to allow the "public access" routes to the beach, which owners are legally obliged to keep open. Yes, not everyone is perfect or tidy (including owners and their guests and renters). But, this is not any justification to disallow people and their pets to enjoy the beaches that were here long before any of the owners and their homes along the beach were even a thought.
Daryl May 01, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Justin is awesome and has truly accomplished some great things - but it's still so wrong that the City of Los Angeles, with over one million dogs, still does not have our own off-leash dog beach - San Diego alone has 4 of them and there are over 60 in California
Jackie Burner May 01, 2013 at 07:03 PM
This is inspiring! I love that the dogs are the main beneficiaries.
Pam May 02, 2013 at 12:41 AM
Justin is an amazing person with so much love in his heart for animals and people. We are very, very, very lucky in Long Beach that he chose us as the place to bring all his endeavors. No wonder we're such a great city with someone like Justin in it!
Dave Newell May 02, 2013 at 03:10 AM
Hey, isn't he Riley's human?
John B. Greet May 02, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Yes. First Rosie. They later added Riley to the family and now young Potus has joined Riley.
Mark Charles May 02, 2013 at 03:52 PM
We live in Eagle Rock and drive to Rosie's Dog Beach at least I've a month. What a terrific facility this is for LA county. Big and small dogs play side by side and every owner I have met there has been friendly and courteous. Thank you Justin and all in loved in creating this unique spot.
Johnny Bravo May 02, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Sorry to pee in everyones cheerio's, just wait till the pit bull crowd shows up. Rosie will be running for her life.
John May 02, 2013 at 07:43 PM
A wonderful idea although given the popularity of our local dog park, dog owners have not been the most model owners in cleaning up after their dogs. This is a problem not just inside the gates but from the parking lot all the way up to the park. What will be done to insure the beach does not suffer the same fate?
robin May 03, 2013 at 01:28 AM
Pit Bulls are NOT bad dogs... So stop the stereo typing. Your Rosie can be a bad dog. Hell, I know many golden retrievers that are horrible and their owners are just as bad. Same with Labs and Chihuahuas
robin May 03, 2013 at 01:31 AM
People leave liter all over the place. I much rather dog poo than all the cigarette butts, plastic, candy wrapprs, etc. Poo at least goes away within days. A plastic bag takes a 100 years to erode away.
notmyfault May 26, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Hey Johnny Bravo- I have a pit and we have been to Rosie's many time, my pit (Colt) loves the place and has made many friends. So quit peeing in everyone's Cheerios.
John May 27, 2013 at 01:00 AM
So Robin, you are happy with a beach full of waste to sit in? Wonder what your house looks like.
robin May 27, 2013 at 02:21 PM
So John, you must get loaded with sh>>>> all the time.... after all you are a john..

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