Ithaca Conference: Planning for a Dog-Friendly Community
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Main Theme: Dog-Friendliness Rate your community!
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Conference Rationale:
State Park Police rounding up off-leash doggers.
(Click for larger image)

In many respects, we are making progress in our relationship with the animals in our lives. Animal rights are taken increasingly seriously and there is a growing recognition of the profound benefits of the companionship of pets, particularly cats and dogs. Paradoxically, just as we are realizing the justice and the benefits of welcoming and respecting companion animals in our society, there are powerful forces working to marginalize and sequester dogs. Dog owners are denied access to accommodations, public spaces, and transportation. Breed-specific legislation and insurance exclusions fly in the face of our ideals of fair play and the presumption of innocence.

Please leave your dogs and other pets at home
"Please leave your dogs and other pets at home"
(Click for larger image)
In effect, it has become politically acceptable to treat dogs as vermin. Phobias are legitimized and reinforced. Worse, by denying dogs the opportunity to become socialized with other dogs and with strangers, we are breeding apprehensive, aggressively territorial, neurotic, yappy, snippy, sociopathic, and dangerous animals that reinforce prejudices and litigious tendencies.

In recent years, hundreds of small groups have been organized to establish off-leash areas, to resist breed-specific legislation, and (very recently) to see that pets are handled equitably in emergency evacuations. Larger groups have been fighting for years to prevent cruelty to animals. Unfortunately, we still have no organization to represent the interests of dog-owners.

The concept of "dog-friendliness" presents a uniquely versatile and persuasive focus for dog-owner advocacy. Grounded in commerce (as in "dog-friendly hotel"), the concept implicitly identifies dog-owners as a significant economic force. Necessarily vague, the concept is flexible enough to encompass a broad and diverse agenda. Warm and fuzzy, it offers an unthreatening counterbalance to the forces of intolerance.

Our job at this conference should be to lay the foundation for an organization that will draw up an agenda and a strategy to convince our leaders that dog-friendliness is good for business and good for our communities.
[ More thoughts on dog-friendliness ]

Ithaca Conference National Steering Committee:

  1. e-Conference: February 15-March 15. Summary results; to access archives, join the IthacaConference Google Group.

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  2. Conference: April 22, 2006
    • Venue: Holiday Inn, 222 S. Cayuga Street, downtown Ithaca, NY. Ithaca is located in the scenic Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York. For more details, see Ithaca4Dogs Visitor Information.
    • Conference Agenda
      • Friday, April 21: Members of the local organizing committee, national steering committee, and other early arrivals could meet at homes of local organizers. Visits to Tompkins County SPCA, Cornell, dog park. Dinner at a local restaurant.
      • Saturday, April 22:
        • 9-10Welcome remarks; workshop: defining dog-friendliness
        • 10 - 10:45 Featured Presentation: Dog-Friendly Housing Design (Prof. Nancy Chwiecko, School of Design, Rochester Institute of Technology)
        • 10:45-11:30 Dog-Based Tourism: What's in it for you? (Leo Sanders, Tough Pups)
        • 11:30 - 1 pm Lunch
        • 1:00- 2:00 Keynote Address: Dog Parks: Challenges and Opportunities (Alison Deeb of MARDOG)

        • 2:00-3:30 Workshops: organization and strategy
        • 3:30-4:30 TCDOG's Struggle for a Multipurpose Off-leash Area (Round-table, moderated by Ken Zeserson of TCDOG)
        • 4:30-5:30 Dog park break
        • 5:30-7:15 Resolutions, plans for the future
        • 7:15-8:45 Dinner (buffet at conference venue)
        • 8:45-9:45 Farewell party
      • Sunday, April 23: Informal tours of our spectacular parks? Wine trail? Picnic at the dog park?
    • Costs: No charge for the conference itself. Participants are urged to sign up for the buffet dinner and open-bar farewell party, for $30. [The dinner and drinks are offered at cost; however, we will lose less money if you partake, as food and drink fees are deducted from the $800 fee for the conference room.] A block of rooms has been reserved at Holiday Inn, but accommodations are not included in the registration fee and conference participants are free to stay where they want. If you want a room at the Holiday Inn, you should call and ask for the Dog Conference discounted rate ($109.99).


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