Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dogs no longer welcome at Maple Leaf Festival

October 18, 2007

While the thousands and thousands of annual visitors to the Maple Leaf Festival are welcome for the 50th version this year as always, their dogs aren't -- any other animals, either.

Recently, the Baldwin City Council passed an ordinance that prohibits animals at any public event. The reason for that -- and the main aim of the action -- was an incident at last year's festival when a young girl was bitten in the face by a dog.

"I know this has been an uncomfortable issue and the safety committee debated about it a long time," said Nancy Brown, a member of both the safety and Maple Leaf Festival committees. "But, with the incident last year and fights between dogs, we decided to suggest that dogs shouldn't be coming to Maple Leaf.

"There's no dog that does well around 30,000 people," said Brown.

The idea started out to be just banning dogs from Maple Leaf. But, for various reasons it grew to all animals at all public events. And, the ordinance has some bite to it. Violators can be fined $500. It's expected for the first year of the new rules, that the fines won't come into play much.

"If we see an animal we will request it to be removed," said Brown. "If we see it a second time, we will have enforcement. We don't want to be nasty about it, but it is now a law in our town."

What will that enforcement be?

"Committee members and barricade monitors will be the first line," she said. "If they don't respond, we will request police assistance."

Since the ordinance was passed, the Maple Leaf committee has tried to get the word out the best it can. It's on flyers and other information. There will also be notification around Baldwin City.

"Well, we are going to have signs posted about the ordinance," said Brown. "Buses will have these signs. Satellite parking areas will have these signs."

Although there has been talk around town about people offering boarding services for the festival, she said she wouldn't count on it.

"I've not heard of anything along those lines," she said, adding that liability costs and other factors would make that difficult.

The "ban" is only for the area where the festival is located. It's not throughout the city.

"It's just in the event area," said Brown. "If someone on Orange Street wanted to do that (board animals) and were willing to get liability insurance for that, I'm sure there would be people who would appreciate it."

The ordinance allows for animals that are in the parade to be here as usual. But, after the parade is over, it applies to them. Also, it does not affect the Kids Zone's petting zoo. Service animals, of course, will be allowed, too.

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