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Okay to take pets to crowded public events?

To many dog people, outdoor festivals are perfect for their beloved pooch. They are outside, active and full of the kind of stimuli a dog doesn't get during long weekdays in the crate at the condo.

But for others, a crowded street filled with strollers and low-hanging snacks is the perfect place not to have a dog. They find brushing up against an animal of any size to be nerve-rattling. Others might love dogs, and even own them, but don't want them snuffling around their chicken-on-a-stick on a hot summer's day. Read the full story.

By Abha Bhattarai  |  September 22, 2010; 7:47 PM ET  | Category:  Local Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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My sister is a professional and she loves her three pooches more than any human. She's pretty good at controlling them, but I really think that in America, the average pet owner won't lead their animal, much less control it. I once had a large black hunting dog who literally did not "see" people. He was wonderfully mannered. But, his size just scared the bejesus out of most people. So, he and me stayed mostly to parks and woods, and not public gatherings. It just wasn't worth provoking people.

Getting back to dogs at street fairs and in stores - I say enough is enough. Many people don't share your enthusiasm. Leave them at home. I'm glad you love your dog. I don't love your dog as much as you do, so leave him at home. It's something called common courtesy.

Posted by: krj47 | September 23, 2010 7:35 AM

I'm allergic to dogs, I not only break out in hives from contact but they also aggravate my asthma. Please leave them at home.

Posted by: cajudes | September 23, 2010 7:53 AM

Dog owners have a responsibility to monitor their pets in every situation they bring them along. If they have a well trained, well socialized dog, then there's no reason they shouldn't take them out in public, so long as they understand that they have to pay constant attention.

Of course, the problem isn't the dogs, its the dog owners who do not take the time to train and socialize their dogs properly and/or don't pay close enough attention to them when they take them out.

As for people who don't like dogs, get over it. You live in a world that includes dogs. Figure out how to cope. I agree that pets can be a nuisance if they aren't well behaved and monitored, but sadly, that will continue to be a part of the reality we live in. Learn to deal with it.

Posted by: DCTom1 | September 23, 2010 8:19 AM

"I don't have to control my dog too tightly because my dog is friendly." I have never met you. I have never met your dog. I have no way of knowing what type of situation your dog presents to the safety of me and my toddler. My child only knows that the dog is bigger than him and approaching. Unless your dog is smaller than my two year old child, please keep it on a leash.

Posted by: ginniemae | September 23, 2010 8:34 AM

If the story as reported was accurate, the problem was not with the dog's behavior, but with the policeman's overreaction to that behavior.

Perhaps our police should operate on more of a British system, where not all police officers carry sidearms.

Posted by: martin_hahn | September 23, 2010 8:35 AM

Wrong question! It should be: "Should DC police be allowed near crowded, public events?"

Stop blaming the victim, it's really sickening.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 23, 2010 8:50 AM

I own two dogs, when I take them out in public I decide if the situation is positive for both my dogs and the people I am going to be around. I don't want my dogs bothering other people but more important I don't want to put my dogs in harms way. I understand not everyone loves dogs, however, I am on a daily basis offended by bike riders that donot give people in cars or who are walking the courtesy to move. I have seen bike riders riding on the street while there is a perfectly good bike path just a few feet away. I have also almost been run over by a bicycle that yell "behind you" but where behind me. I ultimately go the wrong direction and end up running for my life. To me this is more irritating than the dog who is out with his family having a good time.

Posted by: flipalan | September 23, 2010 8:51 AM

I wasn't pleased with the choice of "no, it's a nuisance". No would be my answer, but the nuisance factor doesn't enter into it. I just believe that dogs are better off at home than around a large number of strangers and other dogs.

Posted by: mbrumble | September 23, 2010 8:58 AM

For the sake of the dog, and the people, don't take dogs to "crowded public events". Many of them aren't appropriate for very small children either. Of course, there are a significant number of people that fail to control their behavior enough to peacefully co-exist at a public event as well.

Posted by: staticvars | September 23, 2010 9:12 AM

Dogs at events, dogs on planes, dogs in stores, barking dogs waking me up at 5:30 am. I'm tired of having dogs stuffed down by throat! They're animals.

Posted by: jwnova | September 23, 2010 9:20 AM

Where is the "only with a leash" option?

Posted by: random-adam | September 23, 2010 9:20 AM

Where the option - Children permitted only on leash?
I hate kids, so can we ban them from all activities?

Posted by: getjiggly1 | September 23, 2010 9:58 AM

Nope - no dogs at public events. The dogs should stay home. If an owner cannot be without their dog for a few hours then the owner should stay at home too. My child has been bitten by a dog, twice, (not my dog, don't own one) and he hates dogs. Even on a lead dogs are a hazard. The leash trips unsuspecting pedestrians, the dog runs where he feels like it. Really - dogs should stay at home.

Posted by: kjmoyer16 | September 23, 2010 10:04 AM

Dogs are not the problem, people are.

It's really quite simple. If you cannot control your dog, don't take it into public. YOU are responsible for the dog's actions.

Are we more or less by having animals in our lives?

Posted by: Doesanyonecare | September 23, 2010 10:05 AM

When you really get down to it, a small percentage of people are the true cause of all problems. Usually the same people. If we could just regulate their behavior, the rest of us would be a lot better off.

Posted by: maths1 | September 23, 2010 10:15 AM

Here's the deal:

You love your dog. Good for you.

But you think that you can always control your dogs, whether leashed or unleashed in crowded public situations.This simply isn't true 99% of the time.

How you interpret stimuli is not necessarily the same way you dog interprets stimuli. Dogs can hear frequencies and sounds that will never register with you, and can be distracted by/attracted to smells and scents from miles away. Dogs are by nature curious and investigative.

Festivals involve busy, packed spaces filled with festival goers, musicians and bands, festival seating, bales of hay, trash cans and recycling containers, community outreach tables, craft and retail vendors, not to mention a variety of food sellers with pungent, new, or enticing aromas.

It's difficult enough for people of average height to navigate packed streets and concert areas.

Adding dogs to these events only serves to increase the possibility that a dog might:

- become frightened/disoriented/disruptive by loud musical or street noises,
- find itself in conflict generated by someone else's dog (because of course, your dog is always perfect.)
- need to relive itself in an inconvenient location in the vicinity of human festival goers
- encounter a child at stroller or eye level with an irresistible zwieback or other human treat.

This is in addition to the problems for human festival goers who are allergic to dogs, are afraid of dogs, or (gasp!) just don't like dogs.

While dog owners and lovers don't see the potential for many problems (some of which may lead to lawsuits against the dog owner) the rest of us do.

Posted by: CityCommuter | September 23, 2010 10:17 AM

I'm a long time dog owner and general animal lover:

There are LOTS of circumstances where dogs are just not appropriate, either for the other people or the dog. Every owner should use some common sense and be conscientious of the other people who might not be comfortable around a dog. It one thing to be in a park and have someone take issue with your dog, it's quite another to introduce a pet into an environment where people might be forced into close contact with the animal. Furthermore, it's probably not what's best for the animal either. Any owner who is really honest with themselves will recognize that most dogs don't enjoy being in very tight quarters with strangers on every side. If you're insisting on bringing a pet to a large public gathering, you're probably doing it for yourself and not for the dog.

And to those people who are asking for a, 'Yes, but on a leash' response to the poll, it's illegal in DC to have a dog off the leash anywhere outside a dog park, and the poll assumes a pet owner should know as much.

Posted by: a202guy | September 23, 2010 10:23 AM

I liken dogs to babies. Babies are messy, go to the bathroom at inopportune times, and make too much noise. Dogs can be messy, also go to the bathroom at inopportune times, and bark. As a dog owner, maybe I should start complaining that people bring their babies to both indoor and outdoor events, and I cannot stop them. If you want your messy, noisy kid to come, then leave my dog alone.

Posted by: Morgan100 | September 23, 2010 10:34 AM

I am a dog owner, and I don't always take her to outside events, because I know what she would like and where she might get in the way, much the same way young toddlers are. But, that's what dogs are like, young toddlers. Some parents believe that it's ok to take their 3 and 4 year olds anywhere, yet they dont' want to police them. Same thing.

Posted by: bake2011 | September 23, 2010 10:50 AM

Leave the judgement to whether dogs should be brought to an event to the owner and/or the organizer of the event, not some government entity. Of course, this is DC, so the vast majority of people in DC proper will likely prefer a gov't solution to the "problem."

Posted by: jetodd24 | September 23, 2010 10:52 AM

For most of the reasons stated, I agree that pets should not be at public events, and I am a big fan of pets. However, I don't think your screaming brat belongs in a restaurant, and you should leave that weapon you call a baby stroller (and use as a luggage cart) at home as well.

Posted by: JeffB-27 | September 23, 2010 10:56 AM

I take my dog everywhere that I can. He is well behaved and is not a nuisance. I figure if I have to smell people's cigarette smoke in public places, then my cute dog is also allowed. If you can't handle people, kids, or dogs then stay home.

Posted by: RAE78 | September 23, 2010 11:03 AM

I have a well-behaved dog and one that I can control. However, that doesn't mean I bring him everywhere I go. Owners need to be responsible and think "Is it really best for the dog, as well as other people, to bring the dog here?" If I am going somewhere where I know I won't be able to have 100% focus on my dog, such as the farmer's market or a street fair, I don't bring my dog. Or, I make sure that my partner comes along so that one of us, at all times, will be able to pay 100% attention to the dog and the people and things around the dog.
I don't believe there should be an all out ban on dogs at public events. And if there are, I expect that there will be an all out ban on children under the age of 5 at movie theatre (except for kid movies) Talk about an unnecessary nuisance!

Posted by: npietras | September 23, 2010 11:12 AM

I took my dog to the festival and had no problems. I kept him right beside my leg so he didn't wander off to anyone. There is way to avoid close contact. I move out of your way and you move too if you are allergic, don't like, don't want to be near a dog. I didn't stand in the middle of the crowds and found a clear enough area and sat down for awhile. What I'm hearing is that my dog should never, ever be allowed near a festival and that's BS. As much as some would love to never see a dog, I feel the same about the nasty, dirty, drunk, loud, obnoxious humans I encounter at some festivals-- there ought to be a law to keep them away from public festivals. It's ridiculous to ban all dogs because of the incident at the AM festival.

Posted by: shejoy | September 23, 2010 11:14 AM

We have a dog. My family and my parents always had a dog.

I would never be so selfish and inconsiderate as to bring one of our dogs to a public event. They don't belong there.

Posted by: HillRat | September 23, 2010 11:29 AM

While I would encourage a public discourse of this issue, I hope the Post's article doesn't shift the center of gravity of the issue that provoked the question: the action of the police in using deadly force to resolve a situation.

It was my understanding that the dog wsa brought to the event as part of an outreach program for dog adoption. Animals with disabilities are difficult to place in homes unless people are offered the opportunity to see them in person.

Posted by: atkissonjim | September 23, 2010 11:30 AM

Dogs should not be brought to events where a lot of people will be. Could lead to a conflict, dogs biting people, dogs biting other dogs, dogs using the bathroom all over the place. No, dogs should not be allowed. ALL DOGS have the potential to bite!!

Posted by: common2 | September 23, 2010 11:51 AM

I will leave my impeccably-trained, voice-commanded dogs at home when you start leaving your whining, snivelling, screeching toddlers at home.

Posted by: Orsalia | September 23, 2010 12:39 PM

I dont own a pet,but I do love them,however, taking them to events to showcase them or just walk them is out of line.There r places where pets can go away from crowds and they probably feel more comfortable.I often go to the Kentlands in Gaithersburg for dinner and outdoor entertainment,and it amazies me how many pet owners bring thier pets to walk in the town center plaza and around the outdoor cafes.The dogs in particular do thier business in some of the areas and the owners just watch.Take them to the parks people.

Posted by: ruru2000 | September 23, 2010 1:25 PM

With respect to all of the people who took their time to comment here, I simply can't believe that in a city where people are allowed to own handguns we are worried about dogs at outdoor events.

I have never seen a dog do anything at a public event that would warrant all dogs being banned. As many commenters have pointed out, annoyances are just that. Children, other adults, nature -- all cause irritation for some people and joy to others.

Banning dogs is not the solution. It is the problem. One difference between D.C. and some European cities is that there many stores and outdoor cafes allow dogs. Owners are able to practice being in public spaces with their pets, and both the animals and passersby become acclimated.

Dog owners have had a wonderful effect on our neighborhoods, improving safety by providing eyes on the street, lobbying to preserve green areas when no one else was interested, and are the drivers of a small local market for pet-related businesses. For every one time a person is bothered by a dog, there are thousands of positive interactions. Let's stay focused on the real problems in our area -- like policemen that are too ready to use their guns -- and recognize that living in a city means rubbing elbows with people, and animals, that you might not choose to have in your own home.

Posted by: Greenmiss | September 23, 2010 2:57 PM

For all those equating dogs with children:

Dogs are not people. They really aren't. I don't care how much you love your dog, it is not a person. Really.

And as should be clear from the article, the problem with dogs at these events is not that people "don't like your dog" in the same way that you don't like children. Of course, it's that dogs present an unknown level of danger (yes, I understand that your dog is wonderful, but neither I nor my children are willing to take your anonymous word for it). I also have a terrific dog that I believe would do no harm to anyone, but why should everyone in a crowd have to guess at that? One may be annoyed at my children, but no one is afraid of them.

And my dog, unlike my children, can be left on his own for the few hours we're at an event. So can your dog, I bet. The apparent inability to part with your dog for any length of time is neither the dog's nor our problem. If you need constant companionship that much, don't make all of us deal with that pathology; find a needy friend or get therapy.

Posted by: afking | September 23, 2010 5:03 PM

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