The Economic Benefits of Dog Events

This is an expanded version of a piece published in Northern Virginia Today, Feb 9, 2017

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Annually, in Virginia, there are over 100 AKC sanctioned events of varying sizes.  These events include conformation, obedience, rally, agility, herding, lure coursing, field trails, etc.  There are also events run by the United Kennel Club, United States Dog Agility Association, North American Dog Agility Council, and other groups overseeing dog events.  What many people do not realize, unless they are involved with dog activities, is how much they benefit local economies. According to American Kennel Club a dog event may contribute $1.5 million dollars to a local economy in a larger four day show weekend. Smaller events put several hundred thousand dollars into a local economy.

How do dog events benefit the economy?  Lets first look at the need for sites to hold events. If you own property capable of hosting dog events, you get rental money. I have been to events at Oatlands Plantation, Keepstone Farm, Fredericksburg Expo Center, Prince William County Fairgrounds, Dude Ranch Pet Resort, Rockingham County Fairgrounds, Salem Civic Center, etc.  Over the years I have attended shows not only in Virginia but also in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Quebec, Canada.  I have either shown or gone with my children as they showed.  Currently the main exhibitor in my house is my daughter who shows two dogs regularly and a third as a Junior show dog.

Are you a food truck owner or someone with a business that could have a set up at a dog show? Every dog event I have attended has had anywhere from one to dozens of different vendors. Dog grooming supplies, dog food, human food, leashes, toys, various training equipment and toys, scissors sharpeners, massage therapists for humans and dogs, books, antiques, woodworking, even non-dog related items and advertisements for local tourist attractions, local businesses and what-not have all set up at dog events. Stand in the middle of a dog show and look on the surface how many businesses benefit from our events.  But wait!  There’s more!

Where do out of town exhibitors and judges stay?  HOTELS!  The more pet friendly a hotel is, the more likely exhibitors are to stay there.  If your hotel can host dog shows, even better.  You get not only people staying there BUT people coming to the event who may eat in your restaurant, etc.  Then dog shows may attract spectators who may…. eat at your restaurant.  When word gets out your place is friendly towards dog exhibitors you will get referrals.  I know I tell people where I stay when we are showing.  If your facility is able to host shows in a ballroom, etc., once word gets out you may get requests from other clubs to host shows there.  But wait!  There’s more!

When judges are brought in from far distances there are airlines involved. Some exhibitors fly cross country to compete.  This means needing rental cars, taxis, Uber, Lyft, etc.  Hmmmm….  But wait!  There’s more!

How do we enter dog events?  We get premium lists!  Premium lists can be electronic or printed.  This means people have to program the entries or print the paper ones.  Larger events often hire professional superintendents to manage all the paperwork and print catalogs, etc.  Wait!  What was that?  Yes, printing catalogs of who has entered and in what class.  Judging schedules may be needed depending on the event.  Again, if you are a printer, this can benefit you.  Do you own an awards company?  How many ribbons, rosettes, plaques, trophies and other things will be awarded at shows?  Now long before we even consider entering an event the exhibitor has to prepare!  The type of event determines what we do. Sooooo…  BUT WAIT!  There’s more.

Before we are ready to do any event, there is preparation.  This may mean buying various training supplies and equipment to building our own.  In my back yard I have agility things my husband has made.  I buy training rewards, toys, grooming supplies, shampoos and such I would not get otherwise.  There are classes and seminars we attend.  What about vendors who are getting things together to sell at a dog event?  Where do those supplies come from?  BUT WAIT – yes you know the rest…

What about all the other things we consume while heading to a dog show: Coffee, donuts, fast food, gas for our vehicles.  Think of the sales tax and meals taxes, parking fees and other things we pay for that we would not do if not for dog events?

I have attended many larger “cluster” dog events.  Some have been over a period of a week.  Some have had numerous competitions during these days and drew over 2,000 competitors.  People from all over the region and out of state will attend.  If not for the event, we would not be in the region: we would not be renting facilities, hotel rooms, buying supplies, going to classes, etc.  If not for the event, we would not be spending our money in your area.

It is becoming increasingly difficult in many areas to exhibit and compete with animals. Animal rights activists are trying to shut everything down.  Ask yourself: if we shut down dog (or any animal) events, how will this affect my community?  Support your local dog event – support your local economy!

Karen Peak is owner/operator of West Wind Dog Training in Prince William County, founder of The Safe Kids/Safe Dogs Project, a published author, wife, mother and the manager of a multi-dog, multi-species household.

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