After the death of a man due to drug overdose at last year’s edition, harm reduction advocates insist sniffer dogs be banned on venue, as they create panic. But are these canines really a problem at festivals? Or are we just looking for someone to blame?

snifferdogs(Image Courtesy: Guardian)

Drug overdose casualties are a common sight at most raves these days, with MDMA, or more popularly called Ecstasy, being the prime culprit. But an observation made by Australian band Art Vs Science  on their Facebook page raises an interesting, but debatable, point. It says,

” Presence of dogs at festival grounds induces panic amongst festival goers, who in turn – ‘panic’ overdose on the substances that if, taken in minimal quantities – is rarely harmful and simply escalates their musical experience.”  

defqon 1 2(Image Courtesy:

Last year’s Defqon.1 dance music festival was marred by tragedy when 23-year-old James Munro, who had driven overnight from Melbourne to attend, died due to drug overdose.

Munro knew that the pills he was taking were dangerous and yet, he ingested 3 at once upon seeing the police and sniffer dogs at the gates. Weighing up the risk versus the reward, and chose to ingest what he had, rather than dispose of the pills or risk being caught with them in his possession.

defqon1(Image Courtesy: RUDGR)

The call to keep drug dogs away from this year’s Defqon.1 followed growing pressure by activists and musicians against the use of sniffer dogs at festivals.

The Sherp however, disagrees. Firstly, cases of drug overdose can take place anywhere and anytime, with or without the presence of sniffer dogs. Instead of tackling the problem by taking a detour, why not just uproot the source of the risk itself by avoiding drug intake in the first place? This canine-banning initiative is not much of a solution.