Pets and General Elections
Pet owners and animal lovers will seize any opportunity to feature their animals on social media these days. Recent elections have provided the perfect excuse for some amusing pictures and so a trend broke out for snapping dogs at polling stations.
The #dogsatpollingstations craze was always going to be in full force in this year’s general election but then one-upmanship took over and the pictures that were posted online began to feature a variety of different animals outside the polling stations.
The Polling Station Menagerie
Enthusiastic voter Phil Heard arrived on horseback at the Meldon Village Hall polling station in Devon! The picture of his horse, Ranger, standing outside the building made the national press in double quick time. Of course, the media then sensed an opportunity and many sites were inviting voters to send in their animal pictures.
The electorate didn’t disappoint!
A horse was photographed outside a mobile polling station in Carlton, Cambridgeshire and then a giant dog was snapped outside a polling station in South London. This was an optical illusion but was great fun anyway!
Police officers outside the Prime Minister’s polling station in Berkshire were snapped looking after a voter’s pooch and there have been pictures of just about every known breed of dog posted online. Charities have now advised officials at polling stations to provide water bowls for dogs!
Cats have also got in on the act and one chap even managed to photograph his tortoise outside the polling station. We are waiting for the first image of a snake!
Elections, Animals and the Law
It may surprise you to know that the Electoral commission has issued guidance regarding animals at polling stations and your pets could land you in trouble if you are not familiar with the laws governing elections:
- Dogs are allowed inside polling stations in a supporting role but must be on a lead and should not be permitted to disrupt the voting.
- Where a voter has more than one dog, staff at polling stations are permitted to hold the dogs’ leads.
- If dogs are not allowed in a polling station and they may not be if it is a building in which dogs are not usually allowed, dogs and small pets should not be left unattended outside.
- Horses should be tethered up outside.
- No photographs should be taken inside the polling stations in case pet owners accidently capture details of somebody’s vote or the unique ID on a ballot paper. It is illegal to communicate this information.
- You cannot get your pet to vote for you.
- You should not enquire as to your pet’s political leanings inside the polling station as political discussion is banned inside the buildings.
- Animals cannot stand in a general election but may be officers of a political party. A cat was leader of the Monster Raving Loony party for three years!