Animal instincts?

'Pleased to meet you!' Is there a new trend for owners to take their pets to public meetings?

It seems to be a new trend that people now take their dogs along to various meetings open to the general public.

At a recent meeting, I had the unedifying view of a rather large, shaggy dog constantly rearing up onto its hind legs in the middle of an excellent lecture, slurping its tongue all over its owners face, totally distracting the audience and the speaker. Had its owner not heard of ringworm, diarrhoeal disease (salmonella, campylobacteriosis, and intestinal parasites) transmitted by dogs?

At another meeting a small dog, eager to greet a latecomer, scrabbled and scrambled to see him, completely drowning out the speaker’s words.

I avoid Rye Harbour Nature Reserve because of free-range dogs jumping up, sniffing, and pooing everywhere. Am I to avoid, say the Kino and other locations where owners might now choose to take their pets?

A dear friend has several horses, one of which would very much enjoy a trip out to a lecture. It could do a natty little dressage number during the interval on the stage, whilst I sit, with my slightly incontinent old cat on my lap, enjoying the show, with a shovel and bucket to hand.

Is it me?

Image Credits: Chris Lawson .


  1. Yes Margot, I’m afraid it is you. You live in Dog Country and it’s wonderful. The fact so many establishments are so welcoming to dogs is joyful. Clearly you’re a cat person as you’ve mentioned having one. I’m not a cat person. I hate neighbours cats coming into my garden and doing their toilet business or killing birds. But I accept it’s their world too. I think all intelligent dog owners are aware of the diseases and parasites dogs can carry if not maintained properly. But cats can also cause a variety of illnesses which they can spread to humans too. So it’s 50/50. Personally, I’d love to see your friend’s horse do a little bit of dressage during a lecture interval. And I fully support you having your incontinent cat sat on your lap at the same lecture. We simply won’t sit next to one another because my Spaniel will want to lick its face. I cannot think of anything more fabulous than the “Animals” episode of The Vicar of Dibley where everyone is encouraged to bring all creatures great and small to church. Now that really would be a church service worth attending. May we all try and be tolerant and acknowledge the world belongs to every living breathing thing that walks upon it.

  2. I love animals (and have owned both dogs and cats) but I do have sympathy for your point of view, Margot. I was at the second meeting you mention, and the noise did pretty much drown out the performance.

    Then there’s the question of allergy sufferers; must they leave a venue because a pet is present? What happens when a pet is incontinent indoors? Should venues be obliged to keep a clean-up kit handy? What about dog bites, far more likely to happen in a crowded venue? Do organizers have the kind of insurance that will handle claims for damage to people or property, or should the dog owner be made liable?

    A well trained and licensed companion animal is acceptable, but it might be a good idea for meeting organizers to think about whether they want to specify “no pet animals, please” or “pets welcome” if they feel differently. It’s hard to ask someone to leave when you realize they’ve brought a dog with them, but a bit of thought in advance about what the pets policy will be for the event, and some advance notice to the public, would be helpful to all.

    And even if we do live in a dog-friendly town, I think we need to recognize that not everyone likes dogs, and some people are terrified of them. We need dog-free spaces as well as dog-friendly ones.

  3. Agree with Andrew. It’s you. The National Trust is a fine example of softening the rules surrounding dogs on grounds. Dog owners will agree, they enhance everything, non dog lovers will never see this so this article is sorry to say, pointless. Perhaps talk about the littering humans messing up the salts after a warm bank holiday instead. Or maybe something positive in these trying times?

  4. I agree with you Margot, I have owned cats and dogs and they were taught to know their place – downstairs and not on the sofa! It seems that dogs are now being treated as child substitutes and their every whim is indulged, I was also at that recent performance and, being seated near the front, wondered what on earth the commotion was about, the poor performer was completely drowned out. Recently I attended a memorial service where a dog came too…

  5. Interesting Mark talking about the Salts and litter over a bank holiday, many people do not litter the Salts,use the bins,and either the seagulls, or lack of emptying them over a weekend period is the real problem,when they overflow, the biggest problem Rye United had when they were residents down the football and cricket Salts,was the persistent dog fouling on and around the pitch, and it’s okay some dog walkers say they clean up behind them, but they cannot clean up the dog urine which soaks into the turf, and on one occasion a footballer became seriously affected by this, after a sliding tackle. Were the health and safety officer of Rother Council to ban dogs from this sports recreational ground it would be too no avail, sadly it seems dogs come before the safety of sportsmen, and it’s a disgrace,especially as there are plenty of other green spaces for dog walkers in Rye to exercise their dogs.

  6. I totally support Margot and I also avoid Rye Harbour now despite living there long ago and my son being born there. Allergies are a major problem for some of us when mixing with dogs indoors.

  7. Yes aware of the birds. Not sure about the use of bins though. I will clarify, the volume of waste stuffed into overflowing DOG WASTE bins.
    People also find a full bin and then place their rubbish around the bins rather than take it home. Carefully decorating the top loading dog bins with bottles of bud that fall on the ground smashing and making hazards for animal owners. I have on occasion swept up this offending matter.
    Understand your comments about the cricket pitch. Bet the foxes don’t care about urine on the grass. Why not fence it off like the bowls green? And on that matter, provide a fenced off area for dogs? In a perfect world of course.

  8. I agree completely with the sentiments expressed by Margot, Yvonne and John! Dogs are wonderful animals when treated as dogs and not furry little humans. I deplore dogs being taken into meetings, shops(there were two,separate owners, in Boots last week, one sniffing at the supplements while the owner was collecting a prescription) and indoor eating/ drinking venues. Those of us who have been bitten by an over-excited canine not under the control of an owner know the pain of even a light bite and the fear installed in you when an off lead dog bounds towards you! Now that there are so many dogs, I think the time has come to restrict their access in areas such as playing fields and to make short leads compulsory at all other public places. A return of a dog licence to pay for all the dog bins, signs to remind owners of their obligations, a compulsory registration system and to compensate the NHS for treatment after bites would be a very good idea!

  9. On this post and elsewhere there’s mention of dogs in BOOTS the chemist. Personally I don’t know why this is a problem as it’s not a food outlet, however as a dog owner I follow the rules. BOOTS have a No Dogs policy though it’s an easily missed sign. Surely if there are dogs in BOOTS then it’s down to the staff to enforce their own policy if it’s upsetting customers? I believe the vast majority of dog owners follow the rules and would not intentionally wish to upset others. If a dog owner breaks them then simply say something to them. I would. After all most people would have no issue speaking up if someone was smoking in a No Smoking area.

  10. BOOTS the chemist allow dogs. This afternoon I asked how strict their ‘No Dogs’ policy was due to there being a couple of dogs inside the shop. A senior member of staff informed me dogs are very welcome. She stated they prefer dogs to be brought inside the shop due to the dognapping that’s happening all around the area. How delightful to hear some common sense.


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