News / Calgary

Calgary Lilac Festival hosting doggie spa to alleviate dog anxiety and dehydration

An expected crowd of 125,000 people hitting the streets for the Lilac Festival this weekend has some questioning whether or not pet owners should leave their dogs at home.

Festival director Jennifer Rempel said to help mollify worries about dehydrated or overheated dogs on festival grounds, they’re partnering with Vets To Go to host a “Happy Hound Lounge and Spaw.

Rempel said the “spaw” acts as almost a VIP lounge for dogs to drink fresh water, relax on cooling mats and generally have some reprieve from the high-volume crowds.

“It’s always been a controversy for dogs or no dogs at the festival,” Rempel said. “It’s a place to get some dog festival education or to go if your dog is in duress. They’re offering some great services and there’s a vet on site in case something does happen.”

Jessica Fielding with Vets To Go said as exhibitors in the past, vets started to notice a lot of hot, tired dogs being steered through hordes of people. Fielding said the main issue is pet owners simply aren’t prepared or haven’t properly looked into taking their pet to a festival of that size.

“We noticed that people weren’t really prepared for the amount of time they were going to spend down there,” Fielding said, noting that the average person spends up to five hours at Lilac Fest.

“From what we’ve seen in the last two years, it’s not a great atmosphere for some animals,” she said. “The spa is a place for dogs to get out of the crowds, have a little treat and then continue on.”

Fielding added that a pet’s temperament, size and health should all be considered before bringing an animal down to Lilac Fest.

On track for another jam-packed Lilac Festival extravaganza, event organizer Rempel said one of their key focuses is environmental stewardship.

Continuing on with the waste-recycling program implemented last year, Rempel said the goal is to achieve a 75 per cent diversion rate this year.

“It’s a big project to implement in a 13-block festival that’s free to the public,” Rempel said. “It’s been excellent that so many Calgarians have come out to volunteer at our festival.”

Rempel this go-around the recycling stations lining the streets will feature organics receptacles for paper waste. All stations are manned by volunteers directing garbage disposal, and there’s also a central sorting station that will further sort any improperly disposed waste.

Another neat Lilac Fest feature this year is a bike valet for those who have biked down and may have forgotten a bike lot. Rempel added that she hopes this will encourage festival-goers to leave their vehicles behind and use alternate forms of transportation to prevent traffic congestion in the area.

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