Dogs banned from the Atlanta Dogwood Festival

Atlanta Dogwood Festival Coverage from the March, 2004 issue of Creative Loafing.


This is an article from 2004. For all current information and additional links see Cl's coverage of the Atlanta Dogwood Festival.

Be forewarned, dog owners: Man's best friend will have to stay home during next month's Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park.

A city ordinance passed last year prohibits dogs from attending outdoor festivals expected to draw more than 10,000 people. According to City Council member Debi Starnes, the council approved dog-prohibiting portions of the Atlanta Outdoor Festival Ordinance because, at events like Dogwood, "It can get quite crowded. People bump into each other. Small children are walking in between people at the same level of dogs, and we have had several instances where dogs get agitated from crowds and ... snap or bite at people."

Julie Johnston, event manager for the Dogwood Festival, says she knows of only one biting incident, which occurred last year. "We had our first dog bite in 12 years at our canine Frisbee contest," Johnston said. Oddly, the Frisbee-catching contest is the one part of the festival where dogs — though only pre-registered ones participating in the contest — will still be allowed.

Johnston says that while she was unaware of dog bites outside of the contest, the City Council or the Atlanta Police Department might have that information. Neither could provide details about dog bites in time to meet CL's deadline.

Johnston says festival administrators will be doing what they can to help enforce the city's new ordinance at the festival, which runs April 2 through April 4. "If someone shows up with a dog, they'll be reminded that pets aren't allowed during the event." Dog owners will be handed a $5 coupon for Piedmont Bark, a kennel bordering the park that charges $20 per day.

Dorian Nerenberg, a dog owner and employee of Highland Pet Supply, reacted to the ordinance by calling it nonsensical. "If they're offering a dog-related festivity," Nerenberg says, "then people should be able to bring their dogs."

While prohibited from the Dogwood Festival grounds, dogs accompanied by their owners will be allowed in the off-leash area of Piedmont Park. For more information on the festival, visit www.dogwood.org.