Suffolk: Controversial county show dog ban to stand

Organisers of the Suffolk Show are standing by their decision to ban dogs from the ground despite dozens of complaints from regular attendees.

The ban has struck a chord with hundreds of show goers, and many posted comments on the East Anglian Daily Times website saying they would boycott the show if they were not allowed to take their beloved pets to this years show, taking place on June 1 and 2.

Readers have been phoning the Ipswich office to express their dismay about the move and a stallholder concerned the move could result in a drastic drop in attendances is questioning whether to exhibit in 2012.

Ipswich resident Susan Burstall branded the dog ban “ridiculous” while Wendy Marsh – also from Ipswich – described it as “idiotic”.

The show is an annual outing for Heston Woodward and his family, from Stowmarket, but they said they would be boycotting it from now on.

The reaction of Mr Woodward and fellow dog-lovers does not surprise Kevin Baalham, who works with the Retired Greyhound Trust (RGT) and Greyhound Homer.

He said: “People think it is a bit over the top. It’s an agricultural show and dogs are part of that. If they are worried about dogs fouling, what will they do about horses and pigs? Excluding dogs makes no sense.”

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The RGT pays out �800 for their stand at Trinity Park but Mr Baalham fears a downturn in visitors could make it difficult to justify the outlay.

Despite the complaints, Christopher Bushby, chief executive of Suffolk Agricultural Association – which runs the Suffolk Show – stated the dog ban was “permanent”.

He said he understands it was an emotive issue but described it as “practical move” that is kind to dogs.

“We are sure that people come along and want to enjoy all aspects of the show and if they have dogs with them they cannot do this.”

He added: “Increasingly there are fewer places where dogs are able to go at the show. Most of the stand structures and marquees such as the food hall, cookery theatre, flower and garden experience, rabbit and poultry shows, luxury living pavilion and public eating areas are places where dogs are not permitted.”

Pets taking part in displays can still attend the show, as can assistance dogs, but the general public will not be permitted to bring a dog or to leave a dog in a car.

Suffolk is not the first show to impose a no-dogs rule. This policy is already in place at equivalent events in Yorkshire and Berkshire.

The move was introduced over concerns about dog fouling around food areas and issues around people picnicking, as well as the welfare issue around whether it was wise to have dogs at an event for up to eight hours in the hot sun.