VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Pet owners now have a much bigger leash when it comes to walking dogs at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront during the peak season.

Virginia Beach City Council voted 8-1 Tuesday night (Councilwoman Barbara Henley voted no) to extend hours that dogs are allowed on the boardwalk and Atlantic Avenue, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. For about the last decade, dogs have only been allowed from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Service dogs have and still will be exempt from any restrictions.

Vice Mayor Rosemary Wilson proposed the change after hearing feedback from hotel owners, who are trying to make their properties more pet friendly. They said the previous policy turned off potential guests.

Wilson said the change got the blessing of Virginia Beach Police, who will be able to move officers to other tasks instead of enforcement of the previous rule.

Speakers against the change on Tuesday talked about the possibility of pet waste getting onto the sand and how some owners may not pick up after their dogs. Safety was also a concern.

Dogs will still need to be on a leash under the new rules, and cannot be on the beach from Rudee Loop to 42nd Street from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In the offseason (Labor Day to Memorial Day) there are no restrictions on when leashed dogs can go on the boardwalk.

You can read the full ordinance approved Tuesday night here.