City aims to become pet-friendly


First Posted: 7/22/2009

The acceptance of four-legged friends tagging along for vacation in Mount Airy and other cities across the country is well on the rise.
Local business owners and tourism officials have said more people are looking for pet-friendly communities to bring their pets while on vacation.
Jessica Icenhour, the director of tourism at the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, said a pet-friendly community benefits both local pet owners and visitors, while generating tax revenue from tourism.
Pet travel is becoming an important travel trend that will continue to grow as visitors include pets in their travel plans and weekend getaways. Many Web sites are now dedicated to pet-friendly travel such as www.petfriendlytravel.com and www.dogfriendly.com. Many people consider their pets as part of their family and will continue to travel with them in the future. This is a trend I think we will see continue to grow, she said.
Our Web site, www.visitmayberry.com, lists our pet-friendly businesses here in the area, and we will continue to update this Web page with new businesses that cater to animals. One of the most unique pet-friendly businesses is Pilot Knob Inn Bed and Breakfast they allow you to board your horse and ride your horse on their trails while you are on vacation, she said.
A recent travel poll conducted by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) indicates that, in the past three years, 14 percent of all U.S. adults traveled with a pet on trips of 50 miles or more away from home, Icenhour said. Thats 29.1 million Americans who shared their travel experience with their pets.
Downtown Mount Airy has taken steps toward creating a more pet-friendly community by allowing pet owners to have dogs downtown as long as they are on a leash. There are complimentary treats and water bowls for dogs on Main Street at the Blue Bird Diner. There, pet owners can have lunch with their pet at the diner at the outside table or at the sitting area across from Snappy Lunch on Main Street.
The Downtown Business Association (DBA) recently partnered with the Downtown Merchants Inc. (DMI) to install poop bag stations on trash cans so pet owners can pick up after their furry four-legged friends.
Another effort to support a pet-friendly community is Dog Days of Summer sponsored by the DBA on Aug. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is aimed to be a day of fun and education with area animal welfare/rescue groups and other pet-related businesses.
Select restaurants will be having special pet menus for the day and outside sitting areas for pets and their owners to have a meal. Some businesses will also be having special promotions going on that day.
These groups will be on the sidewalks of Main Street hosting games and activities for pets and their owners, and there will also be animals available for adoption.
Some of the events will include contests for the Cutest dog, Im So Ugly Im Cute, along with a Fashion Show and Doggie Races. There will be prizes for each event, and attendees can register for a goodie bag prize. Monies raised from the event, and donations made will be divided to give to area animal rescue/welfare/adoption groups.
Dog-related events are becoming more popular, said B.J. Easter, the owner of Froo Froo Pet Boutique and three dogs. You see more people traveling with their pets, I take my pets with me. We are having to accommodate the tourist and the pet.
Easter, along with fellow DBA Member Claudia Stowers, are helping to organize the Dog Days of Summer.
The money will help local rescues and non-profits for animals, she said. It also gives people a chance to see what kind of services they offer.
Stowers echoed Easters comments.
So many travelers are traveling with their pets, we dont want them to feel as though they cant bring their pets, theyre welcome, too, its a nationwide trend. Whats a better way to be pet-friendly than to welcome pet owners, she said. We are trying to get everybody involved, this is a promotion our locals can be a part of as well as visitors, its not just geared toward visitors. We want our locals to be aware of what the non-profits are doing and what they need.
Icenhour, the director of tourism, said some of the most common pet requests are for pet-friendly lodging and include questions such as Where can we eat with our pet?, Is there a fee for the pet to stay overnight at overnight lodging accommodations? Also, where can our pet stay while we are shopping downtown?
The number of people who travel with their dogs is growing and so are the places that offer pet-friendly lodging. Mount Airy is also participating in this trend by offering places to stay that accommodate your pet. These local places include The Sobotta Manor Bed and Breakfast, The Maxwell House Bed and Breakfast, Holly Hill Cabin-Mount Airy, Pilot Knob Inn Bed and Breakfast, and The Quality Inn allows your pet for a fee, she said.
She added that all of the local campgrounds are also pet-friendly including Beechnut Campground, Homeplace Recreational Park and Mayberry Campground.
It is great that we are all working together to be proactive about becoming a pet-friendly destination with such events as the Dog Days of Summer and the second annual Bark in the Park event in October 2009. The majority of our visitors are leisure visitors, and we continue to see them bringing their animals in the future.
For more information about Mount Airy being pet-friendly, visit www.visitmayberry.com or http://www.visitmayberry.com/petfriendly.aspx. For more information about Dog Days of Summer, call B.J. Easter at 719-6818.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.

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