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Dogs at Grocery Stores: Yea or Nay?

Dogs at Grocery Stores: Yea or Nay?

By Maria Goodavage for Dogster Magazine

The other day at my neighborhood Safeway, a Bichon Frise wheeled by in the upper part of a shopping cart. A few minutes later, a Collie mix shed his way past me in the meat department, nose pointed upward and nostrils quivering at the enticingly raw scents, fur floating away as he breezed by. A friend told me that two weeks earlier, she’d seen a Toy Poodle lift a leg in the produce section of a supermarket in her San Francisco neighborhood.

It’s just part of a trend I’ve witnessed lately of dogs in stores. I’m fine with mutts at Macy’s, Samoyeds at Staples, and Rovers at restaurants with outdoor seating. In fact, in my book, The Dog Lover’s Companion to California, I applaud dog-friendly businesses and the way they help maintain the human-animal bond. Why leave a dog at home when you can spend your little bit of free time together running errands?

But with the major exception of guide and other service dogs, I’m not quite so big on dogs in grocery stores. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the flying fur, maybe it’s the leg-lift potential, or maybe it’s the potential for canine flotsam that can end up in shopping carts after dogs like the Bichon take a ride in them.

Sure, I mix dogs and groceries in my own house. My dog Jake is right there to greet me with groceries, shoving his nose in the bag to inspect the goods. That doesn’t bother me. But seeing that Bichon’s very furry butt firmly planted where I normally put my produce — sans plastic, to help minimize waste — was a bit unsettling. I know that babies and their diapered and clothed hineys sit in the same place, so it shouldn’t really bother me, I realize. Leaks happen, after all.

My friend who witnessed the peeing Poodle is a rabid dog lover whose life revolves around her little rescue dogs. But even her stomach lurched a bit when she saw the leg-lift near the display of fresh corn. The dog’s owner told the floor worker, laughing, that it happened probably because corn is from the grass family. The worker didn’t look amused as he mopped it up, and my friend could still smell the unmistakable eau de pee when she passed by again later.

There’s a chance that some of the dogs I’ve seen at supermarkets around San Francisco in the last year or so are service dogs. After all, such dogs don’t have to wear any identifying tags or harnesses. But I hear through Animal Control people and business owners that some non-service-dog owners who frequent grocery stores know the law pretty well, and are taking advantage of this. They know they legally can’t be asked much at all about their dogs. It’s an important protection for people with disabilities, who shouldn’t have to explain their disabilities or why they need a dog.

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, some Safeway stores are now “posting notices saying that dog owners who fraudulently claim their dog is a service animal are subject to California Penal Code 365.7, which could result in imprisonment in the county jail and/or a fine that could run to $1,000.”

Actually, I’m pretty sure that most people bringing their dogs with them think it’s just a fun thing to do, and aren’t trying to get away with saying their pet is a service animal. After all, they love their dogs to be everywhere they are, so why wouldn’t everyone else welcome them? And if no one says boo to them, they’ll be more likely to shop at more stores with their dogs. Seeing the dogs will encourage others to think it’s okay. And so the trend, at least in San Francisco, grows.

I wonder whether I’m the only one who has noted this trend of late, and I especially wonder why, although I’m a confirmed dog lover, this supermarket business doesn’t sit well with me. Am I alone in this? Would you bring your dog grocery shopping if you could? (Or do you already bring yours?) Do you enjoy seeing people with non-service dogs in grocery stores?

Maybe you could help me change my mind. After all, dogs at al fresco restaurants are perfectly fine with me. Given that fact, my opinion on non-service dogs in grocery stores doesn’t even make sense to me. Let’s talk!

About the Author: Maria Goodavage is a contributing editor at Dogster Magazine.

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+ add your own
6:57PM PDT on Apr 7, 2014

I am a huge animal lover but dogs do not belong in stores. People are taking advantage of the fact that a bussiness can not ask for proof that an animal is a service animal. A dog in a grocey cart where I am going to put a head of lettuce. NO.It has been become a pet peeve of mine and I complain to the manager every chance I can.

2:18PM PST on Jan 25, 2014

yeah - Dogs stay o the ground - food is packaged and fresh stuff needs to be washed anyway!

2:06PM PST on Jan 25, 2014

No, dog should not be allowed in establishment that sell fresh or serve food. It bother me that I may take a grocery cart with dog poop and hair in it. I have sen people touching thier dogs and then fruits and vegetables. I wouldn't even want to sit in outdoor restaurant with door nearby. I also never had the misfortune of sitting next to a passenger with dog in an airplane yet but I felt sorry for those who did. I wouldn't want to smell the dog poop in an airpalne. I asked the airline about it and they told me if that happened, they would tried to switch me to another seat if anyone wanted to swtich with me. I had a large Shepherd for years until it died so I am a dog lover.

8:33PM PDT on May 13, 2013


9:18PM PDT on May 1, 2013

NAY! I'm a cashier att a grocery store. We HAVE to kick all animals out, except service animals in CLEAR cases. But because all the other stores allow animals in people laugh at my face when I tell them "out" and continue in anyway - only to be causght by my boss and getting told to listen to the other employees. But seriously, it's disgusting. pets and food don't go together, we don't want to pick up after your animals, big dogs are dangerous and scary, you break health codes and we really don't like you.

So don't bring your dogs in the store.

9:18PM PDT on May 1, 2013

NAY! I'm a cashier att a grocery store. We HAVE to kick all animals out, except service animals in CLEAR cases. But because all the other stores allow animals in people laugh at my face when I tell them "out" and continue in anyway - only to be causght by my boss and getting told to listen to the other employees. But seriously, it's disgusting. pets and food don't go together, we don't want to pick up after your animals, big dogs are dangerous and scary, you break health codes and we really don't like you.

So don't bring your dogs in the store.

6:49PM PST on Dec 13, 2012

Mari G: "Why do dog lovers insist on bringing their dogs everywhere? I'm okay with service dogs, or small ones, but I don't understand taking a pet everywhere."

Lovely, the umpteenth woman who thinks small dogs (AKA non-dogs) defy all existing rules.
"If it's small, yes, it's allowed to enter the shop/restaurant/hotel; if it's big, nooooo, because you know, large dogs are dangerous and dirty and troublesome!"

6:19PM PST on Dec 13, 2012

Elaine A: Apparently your not very considerate of others feelings about animals. Only yours. Others have allergies or fears of dogs or other reasons for not wanting a dog in the stores. My son doesn't go where dogs are because he was attacked by a dog that the whole neighborhood feared. My son was substituting in a paper route and he was literally chased down the street and attacked. You can see why he doesn't like dogs. I don't want your sympathies, but my son should feel safe in a store. I spend more money at grocery stores than dogs do. I support service animals..there is a big difference in service animals and pets. I don't have to explain that I hope. Not everyone enjoys dogs in their grocery carts. I like animals but not where my food goes. My husband has been in Sanitization and Quality Food Control in the Food Industry for many, many years. I can tell you they don't allow dogs or any other animals where they package food. Would you want someones dog sitting where your meat is being packaged or your cheese is being made or where your yogurt is being put into their containers? I can guarentee you that USDA doesn't allow that. Let me gross you out a little!! I don't think you want strangers sitting naked on your couch or your kitchen counter. I saw the dirtiest dog in a grocery cart today and I had to complain about that to the store. I usually do! I love animals but I don't want their butts where I put my bread or vegetables.

2:10PM PST on Dec 5, 2012

Carole I get you on the dog eating your flowers etc...BUT, that is not the dogs fault! That's the stupid owner who has no control over their animal. Thus making the dog of no wrong doing. This is why I also added into my post that a really responsible animal owner has the ability to take their dog shopping at Pet Smart and that while they are at it, they can also sign up for animal obedience classes. I also get your point on the germs situation. BUT, again I can not begin to tell you how many Billy Bobs have picked their hockey seats as well as dug for that luggy that he didn't get out by picking the first time. And then handle food. Humans carry far more germs than any animal, sans one with rabies and yet we do not have a clue as to where those hands have been just imagine them using the restroom at the grocery or any store that also carries food products, i.e. Wal-Mart and Target and Joe blow has access to restrooms in both places ...Do you know that he has washed his hands before he touches the produce? NO! You don't and yet his germs are all over what he henceforth touches!

1:56PM PST on Dec 5, 2012

Totally with Ka W. When shopping in ANYtore I wouldn't care to meet a menagerie...and if it's okay for a dog, as you say, why not the rest. There has to be reasonable exceptions made as in the case of service animals...but ONLY the ones wearing the appropriate harness and jacket and don't try telling me that the Yorkie poo peeking out the grocery cart is a service dog. If I see any animal in a grocery store, you betcha...I won't be back EVER.
Like Heidi A...I am sick and tired of seeing animals each and every place I go. Just because a dog is tiny is no excuse for the rules being broken...He or she is still harboring bacteria...owner pets animal...goes and selects tomatoes, apples etc..picking up and putting down and for sure didn't wash hands prior to doing that.
To Elaine A....yes, my cats own me also...but yes, animals of all kinds can be in the wrong...tell me that when the neighbors out of control dog digs up your garden while his owner says 'sorry bout that'..or chases your cats or crosses the road because he knows no better and causes an accident. He didn't do wrong...and he won't be at fault if he takes a chunk out of someone because he cares to as long as his owner is that the thinking behind your remark.. Not all dogs are sweet biddable creatures and some of them are off the wall. I love dogs...but they need to be in place...not wandering about where they want ...can do no wrong indeed. That is ridiculous.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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