The downtown Winchester walking mall is known nationally as a pet-friendly destination. Many pet owners travel to Winchester because of the abundance of pet-friendly hotels, shops, and restaurants on the walking mall.
Imagine their surprise when visitors were asked to leave the normally pet-friendly mall during special events like the "Bloomin Wine Festival", an event held in fenced-off parking lots adjacent to the mall.
People who drove hours with their pets to visit Winchester's walking mall (including 4 pound dogs) were told by officers that they must leave the area immediately, despite the fact that the congested crowds were in the separate wine festival area nearby; not on the walking mall.
This temporary ban is confusing for visitors who know the mall as pet-friendly and encourages them to go to other nearby towns that are truly pet-friendly at all times.
We don't want this ban to become a trend for all special events; we fear this could
become a slippery slope for the future activities on the mall.
When it comes to nuisance or aggressive pets, we encourage police officers ask them to leave...however we feel that chasing down every friendly dog on the mall during the wine festival is unnecessary and a waste of resources. Don't let Winchester become a pet-unfriendly town!