Dogs at Events

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Many event stewards don't think about dogs in their preparations until someone with a dog asks a few days before the event. All too often, this leads to a quick "no dogs" decision when a little prior planning and consideration could probably find a way to accommodate at least some of our canine friends even at indoor sites.

Service Animals

Per the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals must be allowed wherever their owners are allowed. As of March 2011, service animals are defined as as dogs (or miniature horses in specific cases) that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA (; 2011).

Revised ADA Requirements: ADA Business Brief: Service Animals - Commonly asked Questions about Service Animals in a Place of Business - [[1]]

There is nothing preventing an event steward from having a more liberal attitude toward "service" animals. And per the SCA Kingdom Seneschal's Handbook, we cannot require information about the exact disability nor require any documentation from those claiming to have a service dog. However, if a "service" animal is not behaving appropriately as a service animal and is being disruptive... see below.

And here are some reasons why people shouldn't "fake" having a service dog:


Life-threatening allergic reactions to animals are quite rare. Most people with pet allergies have mild hay-fever-type reactions. If people have more serious allergies, that merely being in the presence of a dog would be harmful, they would probably react to the presence of the dog owners (who are usually covered in animal dander even away from their pet). Any dogs at an event should be kept under control well enough that they are not jumping on strangers, whether they might have allergies or not.


The list of diseases commonly transmitted from dogs to humans is extremely short. One can get ringworm just as easily from a human companion as from an animal. Fleas prefer to bite dogs, not people, so a dog with a couple of fleas will not be giving them to other people. There are no significant dog/flea-borne human illnesses in North America. Rabies is extremely rare in pets, and a contagious animal would be showing signs of illness. So asking dogs with obvious signs of illness to leave site should cover any disease concerns.

Food preparation

As noted above, there are very few diseases transmitted to humans from dogs, whether there is food involved or not. The humans involved in the process are a much greater risk of contagion. There are no federal regulations regarding animals in restaurants. There are local regulations, but they generally do not apply to SCA events since we are not "restaurants" subject to food inspectors. So there are seldom any _legal_ regulations regarding animals in feast halls or kitchens. Many people think there are, or should be, so it's reasonable to have some sort of rule restricting dogs in food preparation or food service areas. No pets in the feast kitchen, for example. One might limit pets in the inn or feast hall, also, although many dogs are well behaved enough not to be a nuisance during a meal - often more well-behaved than the children.

Property damage

As with children, so with pets - accidents happen. And while even house-trained dogs with attentive owners may have little accidents in a strange environment, most floors at event sites are easily cleaned and pets can be restricted from areas with, say, shag carpet. An emergency cleaning kit is inexpensive and easy to assemble (stores like PetCo have them posted throughout the store). Alternately, you could require that pet owners carry their own kit with the dog at all times.

Most of our event sites do not have delicate antiques or artwork to worry about (and if they do, see note about children above). However, there are events, such as A&S competitions, where physical damage is more of a concern. In those cases, one could limit attendance to dogs under a certain weight, such as 20 lb (like many hotels do), or require that dogs be carried at all times (which is the policy aboard the replica Niña, [[2]]). One could also require that dogs have their own site fee to cover the cost of clean-up kits (give out as doggie "site tokens"?), or even have a pet deposit.

Noise, Nuisance, Dog Bites:

As a deputy of the seneschal, an event steward is empowered to ask anyone, human or otherwise, who is disrupting event activities to correct their actions or leave the event. Thus a dog that barks excessively, acts aggressively or otherwise creates a significant nuisance can be evicted from site if necessary. (Page 29, SCA Kingdom Seneschal's Handbook. [[3]]) Obviously, less drastic steps should be taken first to give the dog owner a chance to correct minor situations. Animals that are putting others at risk cannot be tolerated.

Red Bandana - idea from [[4]]

Sample Rules:

Rules about pets at Estrella - "Pets at SCA Events", suggestions from Border Downs, Northshield - (apparently originally from the Barony of Vinhold)

Calontir Spring Fling 2014 Pet rules:

  • Pets must be kept on a leash at all times and the leash must be no longer than 6 foot unless they are in a kennel. The only exception is for specific canine activities in the designated canine areas while the dog is participating in the designated canine activities.
  • Nuisances such as excessive barking or howling will not be tolerated.
  • Pets are specifically forbidden to enter the battlefield, archery range, siege range, equestrian area or any additional public areas that are marked as such.
  • Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets. Please do not allow your pet to relieve themselves in any public area.
  • If your pet should bite another individual, you will be asked to remove the pet from site immediately. THERE IS NO EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE. If you do not comply, the owner will be asked to leave as well.
  • Pets will not be allowed in the main hall.