Gulfport Becoming Pet Repulsive!?!?!


One of the most popular attractions to Gulfport has always been its dog friendly atmosphere. Geckofest, Art Walks, Parades, Save Gulfport, countless activities, all dog friendly. You can even sit at bars, cafes, and restaurants at their outside tables with your best friend. There is even a small section on the beach made available for them. Why, even the Blues Fest has, in the past, been dog friendly.
No wonder that it was such a surprise to so many, that this year, that had changed. Many people who came from as far as Citrus Park, Tampa, Largo, New Port Richey approached the entrance with their pets, only to be greeted with 18" by 24" signs proclaiming "NO PETS". The response "I thought Gulfport was such a dog friendly place" was heard many times Saturday night at that entrance.
Its true that the ads for the Fest had a small note that pets were not allowed (as one short, rotund, red-faced, very loud-spoken man at the entrance informed people with pets). People were also informed that if a Service Animal were to be allowed the owner would "have to be blind, thats the only way a dog is coming in here." Maybe a little educating of the many different ways our canine family members fill roles of Service Animals is in order. Anyway, many people came to the fest never seeing an ad, only knowing from past experience that one existed and hearing from word of mouth the day and time and never thinking that the rules had changed. When changing a standing procedure that affects so many people , and so many coming from quite a distance, the notice should have been broadcast in a much more noticable communication.
Why was the rule even made by 49th Street South Business Association? The people at the gate informed everyone this group made the rule. Somebody said because of a dog-fight the previous year. What do you do with people-fights, belligerant drunks, rowdy people? You don't kick all the people out. Only the offenders. I personally counted 4 dogs turned away in the few minutes I stood at the entrance. Those 4 dogs were accompanied by groups adding up to 12 people, 12 people who did not spend money at Blues Fest that night. This was in a span of about 10 to 15 minutes!
By the way, personally, I didn't see the grave peril presented by the Parrot who was also turned away while I stood there.