It’s one of the big no-no’s of Bele Chere: Dogs simply aren’t allowed (excepting those competing in the Purina Air Dog competition.) The heat, the crowds, the noise – it all makes for an inhospitable atmosphere for dogs.
But what happens to the dogs that try to get in on Bele Chere festivities? They typically wind up in Doggie Jail. And despite the implication of incarceration, it’s actually a pretty nice place to spend the day.
Located out of the festival’s boundaries in the shade of the magnolia tree in front of Asheville City Hall, Doggie Jail has the benefit of offering a cooler, quieter environment for dogs. The covered fenced in area is on a grassy lawn and attended by volunteers from Chain Free Asheville and other organizations.
“Police tell people with dogs to bring them here,” said Chain Free Asheville founder Peggy Irwin, who had just finished signing in a new dog on Friday afternoon. “It allows people a way to enjoy the festival without abandoning their dogs.”
Instead, dog owners pay $5.00 for the first hour and $4.00 each additional hour with a daily maximum of $20. The dogs are kept in kennels supplied by the WNC Nature Center and Chain Free Asheville inside a fenced area provided by the City of Asheville, and owners are free to head to the festival.
Water and attention is provided and volunteers walk each dog outside the fence every 45 minutes. The Doggy Jail operates until 8 p.m. on Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday, so owners are required to leave a cell phone number in case they have not returned by the time closing time comes around.