Filed under: Destination Camping & RV Resorts, RV Campgrounds, State & National Parks, Taking Along the Family Pet, Tent Campgrounds
Add-On Charges for Pets – What’s Your Feeling on This? Is it Fair or Not?
That is what I encountered this past summer at a beach campground we frequently visit.
Our friends that have 3 toy poodles were told upon arrival that their pet up-charge would be $210 for two weeks. They canceled their reservation and left.
We begrudgingly paid the pet fee and stayed.
How is it that responsible people get punished for those who are irresponsible? That’s how I feel every time I encounter a campground that charges an extra fee for pets.
I do need to introduce this topic with sensitivity. It is not my intent to upset any campground owners or campers.
If you’re a pet owner (or even if you’re not) maybe you can relate to my story…..
Yesterday I telephoned the reservation center for one of our Virginia State Park campgrounds. The reservationists that handled my call was extremely polite and helpful.
Me: “I would like to make a reservation for Belle Isle for Friday and Saturday night.”
Her: “How many people?
Her: “Do you have any pets?”
Me: “Yes, a small Dachshund.”
Her: “There is an additional $5 charge per day for each pet – do you want to pay it as part of your registration or at the Ranger Station when you arrive.”
Well, as I mentioned earlier, this is not the first time I have been confronted with this fee. But, still, I was surprised to hear it coming from our State Park service.
Nancy and I are responsible pet owners. We always carry a poop bag and clean up any mess. We do not allow Oscar to run free, dig holes, ruin fragile plant life, interfere with other campers or bark excessively. He spends much of his time indoors asleep on the couch or in my favorite chair.
Needless to say, I see the added fee as a penalty brought on by irresponsible pet owners. Keep in mind a recent survey indicated that at least 60% of us camp and travel with our pets. While I have observed some pet owners that will watch their dog make a mess, and then walk away, the majority I observe out for morning walks do clean up after their pet.
I have never observed a campground staff Dog Poo Clean-up Patrol. I have arrived on campsites with fresh poo in the walking area. I always clean up pet poo, even if it is not from my dog. That is part of being a responsible camper. I also pick up cigarette butts and bottle caps. It is my belief you should, if possible and appropriate, always leave a campsite cleaner than you find it.
I knew the lady I was talking with did not make the rules, nor could she change them. Still, I decided to investigate further to discover what responses she may have been trained to give to customers about the added fee.
Me: “Why is there an added charge for a pet?”
Her: “Well, pets get lost and Rangers have to spend time looking for them. There are also additional grounds maintenance labor costs for cleaning up after pets.”
Me: “Is there an extra charge for unsupervised children that might get lost?”
Her: (Pause) “No sir, the camping fee covers up to six occupants.”
Me: “I see. Is there an extra charge for smokers that litter the campsite with cigarette butts, consume beverages from bottles with detachable tops that litter the ground or elect to fill the fire pits with empty bottles and cans that I must clean up before we can have a campfire?”
Her: (Another pause) “No sir, but campers that violate our rules on littering can be evicted by a Ranger and even fined if there is a destruction of property.”
Me: “So, why is that same policy not extended to pet owners if they do not clean up their animal’s poo or follow rules?”
Her: (Obviously, becoming a little tired of this exchange but still extremely polite.) “We do not have enough Rangers to constantly police camper activities.”
At that point I ended the Q&A session and repeated to the lady that I understood she was only the purveyor of the information and in no way was responsible. I also thanked her for her patience and polite answers. I went ahead and completed the reservation – with the added $10 fee for Oscar – but I was far from being a happy camper.
The way I see it, I had three choices when I was confronted with their pet policy:
1. Pay the $5 per night up-charge and get on with it.
2. Lie and tell them I did not plan on bringing a pet (and then bring him anyway).
3. Not patronize this campground and go somewhere else that did not charge an additional fee for pets.
I’m not into lying. That is neither the way I was brought up nor the way we brought up our children.
So, #1 and #3 were my choices. I elected #1 – this time. Next time I will probably elect #3 and not return. My choice will hurt both the campground , me and my pet. That is a shame. Pet’s love camping too. In my home, Oscar is part of our family – he goes camping with us when we go.
Let’s get back to the $70 extra charge for Oscar to stay with us two weeks at the beach campground. They also charge $5 per night for each pet. If you stay two weeks with one pet, that is an added $70. Two weeks with two pets is $140 – the charges add up quickly. My pet will not require $70 in added services.
It is not that I can’t afford the add-on fee; it is the principle behind the reasoning for it to start with. Make every pet owner pay for those who are irresponsible. That’s part I do NOT like.
I believe that if pet resident fees are added to ever pet owner, so should other fees as stated above. Equity is important in these changing times.
So – this is the bottom line: I want to hear from our readers. I know you are out there because analytics are telling us how many page reads we have each month. I realize many readers do not like to make public comments, but I hope you will on this topic. It would really be great to hear from some campground owners that have implemented this fee as well. There are always two sides to every story.
If for some reason you DO NOT want to comment here, click on FORUMS at the top of the home page and drop a private e-mail to professor95. I will not reveal your real name – only your commentary.
If my feelings are wrong and unjustified, I want to hear reasoning that will open my mind further. If it is justified, our campground owners need to know what the public reaction is and what impact, if any; the policy may have on campground selection.
Again, I hope you will take the time to leave a comment.