My husband and I love to attend charity walks. We have many that are close to our hearts. Naturally, we also love to take our fur babies with us. Typically, we are the “talk of the walk,” so to speak. It is a bit unusual to see five dogs in a huge pet stroller.
While double checking the itinerary for PurpleStride 2013, there was a large note at the bottom of the screen in bold print. It read: Pets are prohibited at all Pancreatic Cancer Action Network events.
What? We have been attending PurpleStride for 3 years and have taken our dogs for 2. The volunteers used to hand out purple bandannas specifically for dogs. So, why the sudden ban on pooches?
We have been to enough dog events over the years to realize that not everyone pays attention to their dogs the way that we do. My husband and I bring a backpack filled with items that we might need: doggie sun screen, treats, Paw Stick, water bottle with drinking tray, etc. But, many in attendance place their dog (s) on a long leash and hardly watch what they are doing. We have heard and seen several dog fights. On the other hand, we have seen very responsible owners that have the leash/muzzle combo on their pooches and who NEVER leave them unattended.
I realize that the problem is not just whether or not the dog owner (s) are responsible. A great deal of it has to do with children. This also bleed into the responsible parent issue. Allow me to share our very scary child/dog incident:
Matt and I had loaded the fur babies into the stroller and were happily walking around Cricket Park for the Missouri Humane Society’s annual Bark in the Park event. We loved looking at all of the dogs and vendors. It was almost time for the costume contest, so we decided to grab a seat early and start dressing up our babies. Once the babies were dressed and placed back in their stroller, Matt and I began to talk. We were not looking at the stroller because we were sitting right next to it and knew that we had it zipped shut.
That’s when we heard the sound of a zipper. I whipped my head around in time to see a little boy opening the front zipper to the stroller to get at our dogs. Matt jumped up and told the boy, “No!” and quickly closed the flap. Where were this boy’s parents? How could you leave your child unattended in an area that is filled with dogs? Dogs that you don’t know. Big dogs that could easily hurt a small child.
I was shocked and scared. Our dogs are very well behaved, but, they have all been abused. Theo was even abused by children. But, try telling that to an angry parent whose child has just been bitten by said dog. Do you really think that they will want to hear that it is their fault for not watching their child? Of course not! The dog is demented and needs to be euthanized.
Thankfully, none of that happened. We calmly explained to the boy that he needs to ask to pet one of our dogs and we will be sure to pick out our friendliest pooch. That is when Matt came up with a great idea. He purchased a small padlock that fits very nicely through the bottom two zipper holes. When we head to an event, the front flap stays zipped and locked, leaving only the flap on top to contend with. And I doubt that there is a toddler tall enough to reach the top of the stroller.
That being said, flash forward to PurpleStride. We sadly left our dogs at home and made the journey to Forest Park. When we met up with the rest of our team, I noticed something: THERE WERE DOGS PRESENT! I was furious! Had the e-mail been wrong? Had I left my dogs behind for no reason? That’s when I saw the sign, bold as brass on one of the event gates: NO PETS ALLOWED (SERVICES DOGS ACCEPTED). Let me tell you, these dogs were definitely NOT service dogs! And having a certified therapy dog, I know what types of identification that service dogs need to have: special tags, special vests with service dog patches, etc.
And none of the owners were told that their dogs could not stay! What gives? If you are going to make a rule, then you need to be fair across the board and say, “I’m sorry, not pets allowed.” It was on the e-mail that all participants received. What I wonder is if the number of dogs comes into question. If I would have just brought Penny, would the volunteers have said anything to me? You can rest assured that if I rolled up with all five in the stroller, I would have been told to leave.
While I will continue to support pancreatic cancer research, I will forever be disenchanted with the enforcement of rules and policies at the PurpleStride event. Hopefully, more dog owners will stand up and voice their unhappiness as well.