An event honoring military dogs and their families should be a joyful, dignified and educational event. Honoring canine heroes at the Fort Collins Public Library seemed like a great idea to begin with, including a large, high-ceilinged conference room with side doors opening directly onto the Library Park lawn. Plans were made and agreed upon in several months in advance.
However, dogs are not allowed in the library. A city library, open to the public, must abide by a long list of rules or be shut down. This list can be so long that even the librarians are occasionally blindsided by a violation they have to enforce. This event was brand new to the library and to the organizers.
While the event was intended to be educational and not a fundraiser, those accustomed to these gatherings expected to bring the same booths, donation jars, merchandise and of course, dogs wandering around with their families. This is expected in an outdoor arena, where the organizers are accustomed to similar events and how to organize them. The library didn’t have a permit for the vendors and fundraising is not allowed. No one was informed that this would be an issue. Some attendees were walking their dogs through the front door, having not been informed that the dogs were expected to wait on the lawn outside of the conference room.
City libraries are often and unfortunately one of the few places the homeless have to go to escape rain, snow, cold and heat. Many of them are addicts. Eileen McCluskey, manager of the Poudre Library, has had to navigate clashes between library patrons and the homeless folks who crowd the furniture and monopolize the computers. She’s had addicts shooting up in the bathroom and police showing up on a regular basis. McCluskey was enforcing a library rule. No dogs. As a result, people have sent angry e-mails to North Forty News explaining how dogs were not allowed into the library at an event about dogs.
The event was well-attended and an overall success with a program, slide show and a demonstration by the dogs and their owners. The dogs themselves were perfectly happy lying in the grass outside of the open, double glass doors of the conference room. McCluskey regrets the miscommunications and misunderstanding. “The library didn’t meet the expectations of the attendees and the library has to take responsibility for that,” said McCluskey.
If the event happens in the future, organizers will be forced to find a new location.
The men and women of the military and military dogs deserve to be recognized and respected wherever they go. In this case, the best intentions fell short.