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North Hills Monthly

Some Research Required before Camping with Your Pet

Feb 29, 2020 10:52AM ● By Kathleen Ganster

Daisy, the Alchier's camping companion.

When Will and Lisa Alchier go camping, their 6-year-old West Highland Terrier goes with them. 

“Daisy is part of our family, so it never really crossed our minds not to take her with us,” said Lisa Alchier, who adds that Daisy loves going on car rides and hiking. “She makes herself quite at home by the fire or in our tent. By taking her with us, we don’t have to worry about boarding her or finding someone to take care of her.”

The Ross couple isn’t alone. According to the American Camper Report (composed by the Coleman Company, Inc. and the Outdoor Foundation) 37 percent of campers take their pets along for the adventure.

Campgrounds are taking notice of this trend and providing pet-friendly amenities to increase ease and enjoyment for their patrons. In addition to pet-friendly campsites, some have dog parks and runs, designated trails and even doggy swimming areas. But before campers head out the door, there are preparations and tips to keep in mind.

The Alchiers have camped with Daisy at several Pennsylvania state parks, including Pymatuning, Cook Forest and Kettle Creek. “The state parks have designated pet-friendly campsites and are very welcoming of dogs,” said Alchier. “We try to find sites that are larger and as secluded as possible. Daisy can be very excitable, so we try to set up camp in a way that limits her views of other people and dogs.”

The Alchiers also do their research first before they go tent camping with Daisy. According to the www.DCNR.pa.gov website, 56 of the state park campgrounds allow pets, but only in designated campsites. Dogs, cats and caged small animals are the only pets permitted in Pennsylvania’s state parks, and not every campground allows pets.

Many National Park campgrounds also welcome pets. They even have a special name for responsible pet owners—BARK Rangers, which stands for: Bag your pet’s waste; Always leash your pet; Respect wildlife; and Know where you can go. Like the Pennsylvania state park campgrounds, not every national park allows pets so campers should do their research before traveling. 

In nearby Erie, the Lampe Campground and Marina, owned by the Port Authority, welcomes pets as long as they are on leashes and well behaved, according to Robin Waldinger, Port Authority CFO. The campground has 42 waterfront campsites for tents and RVs with electric available at each site. At this time, they do not charge additional fees for campers with pets. 

With easy access to Lake Erie, Presque Isle and Erie’s Bayfront area, Lampe fills up quickly, so Waldinger suggests reservations in advance. “We allow reservations a year in advance. We do take walk-ins based on availability, but we are already full most weekends in July and August,” she said.

There are also fairly strict guidelines for camping with pets. While every campground has their own set of rules, basic guidelines include that pets must be on leashes or caged and under control at all times at the campsite; pets must not be left alone; pets must have I.D. and be up-to-date on their vaccinations; and pets' waste must be immediately cleaned up. Many campgrounds will also have limits on the number of pets allowed in each site.

Pet owners need to take extra steps and carry additional items for their pet’s safety and comfort. When Daisy joins them, the Alchiers pack a familiar rug or blanket for her to lie on; a retractable leash that can be attached to a table or heavy object so that she is able to move around the campsite; lots of treats in a sealable container; a collapsible water dish; towels for muddy paws; a brush; extra dog bags for cleanup, and a camp chair of her own.

“She loves to curl up by the fire and relax with us,” said Alchier.

The National Park Service also offers some tips for traveling with pets:

• Know your pet: if taking your pet along will pose a danger to anyone, including the pet, leave it at home.

• Is the pet in good health? Consider whether your pet will be able to meet the physical demands of the camping trip.

• Make sure the pet is up to date on all vaccinations and be proactive against fleas and ticks. 

• Have proper collars and identification on your pet. While all campgrounds require pets to be leashed or housed, your pet may get loose. 

• Know where you can take your pet. Just because the campground may allow pets doesn’t mean they can go on every trail, on the beach or in some other areas.

For more information about pets and Pennsylvania state campgrounds, visit www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/RulesAndRegulations/PetsInParks/Pages/default.aspx. Information on national park campgrounds that allow pets can be found at www.nps.gov/subjects/camping. 

For information on Lampe Campground and Marina, visit http://www.porterie.org/camping/ or call 814-454-5830 for reservations.