This post is quite a bit longer than I like, but I feel it is important to have all of this information in one fell swoop.
Over the years, I have seen dogs, cats, ferrets, rats, birds, and other pets at SCA events, both indoors and out. If you are planning on taking your pet to an event, there are a few things you will need to do and take with you to ensure your pet’s safety.
First and foremost, read the event article. Most will let you know if pets are welcome at the event.
If there is no mention, do not assume you can bring your pet, contact the Autocrat/Event Coordinator (EC)/Event Steward (ES) and nicely ask if there is a pet policy, can you or can’t you bring the pet. Please do not contact the site owner or manager. This is the job of the Autocrat/ES/EC.
If pets are not allowed, then there is no need to beg or plead, just plan to take your pet to a different event, when allowed.
If you can not take your pet with you to the event, and it is longer than a few hours, please take the necessary steps to provide safety for your pet. Get a pet sitter or take them to a trusted, local boarding facility.
If you have a service animal, that is something completely different. Do contact the Autocrat/EC/ES and let them know you need your service animal with you at all times, and let them contact the site owner or manager. They will get back to you as soon as they have the “all clear”.
Keep in mind that the Autocrat/EC/ES or site owner or manager may ask you to provide the service animal’s papers to prove that they are in fact a registered service animal, and you are not trying to pull a fast one. Unfortunately, this has happened before to site owners or managers, and they should be on top of it for the safety of their property, staff, and guests.
Note: In most cases, a Therapy Dog does NOT constitute a Service Animal.
Remember, the most important thing at any event (SCA or real world), is to keep a close eye on your pet. Make sure they are happy and healthy. If your pet gets tired, make sure you give them down time. If they get hungry or thirsty, give them food and water. If they need to go potty, give them a potty break. You know your pet better than anyone, make sure you keep their well being in mind at all times. You are responsible for them, not the other way around.
Make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations, has a collar with ID tags that contain your cell phone number, microchip your pet in case they slip their collar.
If you have an un-socialized pet or a pet that is not good with people, other pets (dogs, cats, ferrets, rats, birds, etc), loud noises, not being at home, or any other issue with being out in public, DO NOT bring them to the event. This is for the safety of your pet, your personal safety, and the safety of everyone else at that event.
What Every Pet Needs at Every Event:
Have a “to go” bag. This is much like a diaper bag for a baby. You will need an extra dish for both food and especially water, a spill proof container, a water tight container of water for the pet (some sites do not have access to water for man nor beast), treats, pooper-scooper bags, paper towels or wipes in case there is an accident, if your pet is small, a compact pet bed or towel, and any medication your pet may need before you return home.
Pets at Indoor Events:
Personally, I don’t like to see any pets at indoor events, unless they are service animals. Period. Don’t get me wrong, usually I like to spend more time with pets than with people. I, myself have 2 cats and a dog. However, there are an awful lot of people who are allergic to animals. I feel that it is rude to either subject those who are allergic to animals or birds to that allergen, or force them to leave the event. (If the event is at your home, that is a different story.)
If you do bring your pet to an indoor event, with permission, then you will need a few things to keep your pet happy, healthy, and safe.
Keep your pet on a leash and with you at all times. This may seem a little overprotective, but it will help your pet and the guests at the event feel safe. (Especially if you have a smaller pet, dog, cat, ferret, etc. They can freak out and possibly bite if stepped on.)
The all important To Go Bag.
Make sure you keep an eye on your pet and make sure they are O.K. You certainly don’t want your pet to piddle indoors at an event.
Pets at Outdoor Events
If you are going to day-trip (leave home in the AM and return home the same PM):
Note: A day trip event that I am only going to stay at for 4 hours tops is the only kind of event I will bring my dog to. More than that and she gets cranky. A cranky pet can be an unsafe pet. The cats always stay at home as they are always cranky.
You will need a leash that is attached to both you and your pet, at all times. This is the law in most states, counties, and cities. If that is the case, then the Autocrat/ES/EC or site owner or manager may have no choice but to ask you to leave the site if they see you and your pet not attached at the leash. This is for your pets safety, especially in areas that have predators. Your pet can make a lovely snack for something higher on the food chain given the opportunity.
The To Go Bag, of course.
A crate for your pet to have a place to nap in or escape to if they get overwhelmed. This is only for pets who are prior to the event crate trained.
Most importantly, keep an eye on your pet!
Pets at Multi-Day Camping Events:
A leash that is attached to both you and your pet at all times. This is the law in most states, counties, and cities. (Blah, blah, blah… Same as above.)
The fabulous To Go Bag plus camping stuff. The camping event stuff you will need an extra leash in case your regular one breaks, a photo of your pet in case they get out, a crate for them to sleep in, a pet bed for in the crate, a temporary pet run, and shade or protective weather covering for over the temporary pet run.
Microchip your pet if they go to a lot of camping events with you. I have seen a lot of lost pets running around without their collars, with no other way to ID them. In the past I have seen a few large camping events where people have brought microchip scanners for the Watch/Security Point to use if a lost pet comes in without their collar.
The most important thing you will need to do for and with your pet at camping events is to either keep them with you at all times, or check on them super often, at least every hour. I have known too many people who have lost their beloved pets because they didn’t check on them often enough. It only takes a dog (no matter the size) about 1 minute to dig under any fence.
Remember, SCA events can be really scary to pets. The event is unfamiliar territory. Pets do get stressed out and can act very different from they way they do at home. This can cause them to escape and never be seen again. I want to prevent that from happening. My recommendation is to keep your pet with you at all times, on a leash, and have that leash attached to both you and your pet.