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Can Wilmington Downtown Inc. keep dogs out of the Friday concerts?

F.T. Norton

Q. I attended the Wilmington downtown regular Friday evening concert last night with my little dog who was on a short lease. As I entered the area where the street barracades are, I was told my dog could not come inside this one block area in front of the court house. There were about five folks with nice dogs on strong leases all forced into one area for “people with dogs” far away from the bandstand. None of us with dogs could even see the performers. Is this legal(enforceable) to keep a dog from a public street, as it is a free concert and open to the public? If it is not, what is a suggestion of what to tell the volunteers who are strongly enforcing this rule? And if it is illegal, can Wilmington Downtown Inc. be informed so they can pass this along to the robust volunteers in yellow shirts.

A. To answer this question, Lucy Crockett of the Wilmington Police Department pointed to Wilmington City Code that states it is illegal to bring an animal to a festival.

According to the city code, the presence of animals at festivals poses health and safety concerns for both spectators.

“It shall be unlawful for any person owning or having possession, charge, custody or control of any animal, to take that animal, whether on a leash or otherwise, into or allow the animal to enter the boundaries of the Azalea Festival, Riverfest or any public street, road, highway, sidewalk, alley, parking lot, or right-of-way which is temporarily closed to regular traffic for special events,” the code reads.

It is also a violation of the code to refuse to remove the animal from the festival.

There is one caveat, however: It does not apply to those animals that are part of an authorized exhibit or parade.

The city manager and New Hanover County Animal Control shall have the authority to specify the conditions for having such animals for the protection of the public and for the well-being of the animals. The festival/special event operator and sponsor shall be responsible for immediately cleaning up and removing any animal wastes from animals that are part of an authorized exhibit or parade. All animal wastes shall be disposed of properly. This section also shall not apply to properly identified guide dogs or other animals relied upon by handicapped persons, to animals owned and controlled by public law enforcement agencies, or to animals used by a vehicle for hire such as the horse-drawn carriages downtown.

The code outlawing pets at festivals downtown covers wild or domestic animals and male or female animals, including but not limited to, dogs, cats, livestock and other mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.


Is there a law that bans pets, other than service animals, from stores?

Are goats allowed in Wilmington or New Hanover County?

User-contributed question by:
Ron Wilson

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One Response to “ Can Wilmington Downtown Inc. keep dogs out of the Friday concerts?”

  1. On November 4, 2013 at 9:41 am betckc wrote:

    There is a chance your pet could get stomped on or hurt with so many people and mainly because a lot of owners don’t care where their dogs poop or pee and with a large crowd it is not very much fun to find out you have stepped into something. I have 4 dogs and I have sense enough to know that I have to respect other people especially in a crowd

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