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Bringing your dog to festivals: Yay or Nay?

Our canine friends are obviously valuable parts of our lives, and we are beloved by them in return. Of course, we want to include them as much as we can in our lives as they center their short animal lives around us. However, with this companionship and loyalty, we are required to be responsible pet owners for our pooches. So with this in mind, could and should one take their faithful Fido to a festival?

First, we need to establish the distinctions between a service animal, and a pet. For the purposes of this article, we will consider the definitions in both Canadian and American laws. A service dog is defined under the Americans With Disabilities Act “…as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.

In Canada its a little less clear cut, with variations from province to province. It is illegal to try and pass off a pet as a service animal, and doing so can put people and real service animals in danger, with tragic results. So, we are considering the implications of bringing pet dogs to a festival, not working dogs.

Second, we should rightfully take into account that festivals as a private entity can rule what is allowed and is not allowed at their event. BC’s own Motion Notion allowed pet dogs to accompany their owners to the festival, as do a handful of American festivals.

Interestingly, Bonnaroo makes exceptions for not only service dogs but also service miniature ponies (Author’s note: from my personal experience working with miniature ponies, I’m amazed!) Always make sure to do your research and due diligence to make sure you actually can take your pooch to the event, as we all know its no fun to get turned around at the gate.

Thirdly, and if you do decide to take your dog to a festival, there are some harm reduction and common-sense rules to ensure a happy visit for yourself and your dog.  You know your furry friend best: If your dog spooks at crowds or strangers, keep to the back of crowds where there’s breathing room and a spot to sit. Don’t let your pup eat anything it finds on the ground, and be sure to pick up after them. Bear in mind that if you’re boiling in the summer heat, Fido will be too, so be sure to stay in the shade and make sure neither you nor your dog overheats.

In the end, be judicious — if you’re bringing your dog to a festival, you need to be attentive, caring, and respectful of its needs and limitations. If you feel like that’s not something you want to worry about, there’s nothing wrong with leaving your faithful friend at home with a sitter.

Have you ever taken your dog to a music festival? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

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