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Pets Banned in Home Depot after Shih Tzu Accident

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Pets Banned in Home Depot after Shih Tzu Accident

By Lisa Spector, Juilliard Graduate, Canine Music Expert and co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear.

On April 19th, a greeter employed by Home Depot in Ottawa, Canada approached an elderly woman’s 12-year-old Shih Tzu dog, Spot, who was in her shopping basket. The employee, Anne Riel,  reportedly leaned over and reached into the basket with her hand to pet the small dog, who then 
jumped up and bit off a part of her nose. Riel was rushed off by ambulance and needed seven stitches to repair her nose.

Because of the incident, Home Depot Canada decided to ban their allowance of all pets into their Canadian stores starting May 16th, however they will continue to allow certified service dogs. Previously their policy allowed all pets into their stores, as long as they were under the owner’s control. A release written by Tiziana Baccega, Home Depot Canada’s manager of public relations says, “Many of us at the Home Depot Canada are pet owners ourselves, and we understand that the majority of pet owners are responsible in how they control their pets, however, we believe this is the best decision for the shopping enjoyment and safety of all customers.”

The dog’s owner, Odette Fournier, has been fined $610, and she was also issued an order to keep Spot muzzled outside her home. Riel said she wanted the dog put down and that she hopes her experience shows the public that it’s not just certain kinds of dogs that can become aggressive. “Please, please understand it’s not only the Pit Bulls and German Shepherds and the big dogs that are nasty,” she said. “The small dogs can be just as nasty and that’s what’s deceiving.”

Next: Was Spot at fault?

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Read more: Animal Rights, Behavior & Communication, Dogs, Everyday Pet Care, Humor & Inspiration, Pets, Safety, , , , , , , , ,

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Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is Co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new Canine Noise Phobia series is a breakthrough treatment and prevention program for canine noise sensitivities. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa's blog here.


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10:24AM PST on Dec 14, 2013

I assumed it was common knowledge to never pet a strange animal. The dog in the shopping basket was protecting it's owners posession, the cart, in it's mind, and you never put your face up to a dog's face even if it's your own dog! Of course the dog shouldn't have to wear a muzzle or be put down. As to dogs in stores, I think dogs in warehouse type home remodeling stores and outside patio restaurants, etc are fine. I'd prefer not to have dogs, nor do I feel a need to bring my dog, inside department and grocery stores.

2:20PM PST on Feb 14, 2012

Interesting article. Interesting comments!

5:26PM PDT on Oct 25, 2011

No, only guide dogs for the blind etc.

4:56PM PDT on Sep 17, 2011

I don't think animals should be let in stores, unless if it's a service animal.

10:53AM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

And just for the record, I actually prefer if stores didn't allow pets. Here in Singapore, no store does. And I must say as a result we never get "complications" arising, as illustrated by this incident! So for me, it is interesting to see how store in other countries allow pets, yet have no protocol on how their employees are supposed to handle them (or rather, *not* handle them, in this case!). If you allow something, you need to anticipate what allowing that would mean...

10:47AM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

@Diane: You said, "Are you suggesting that every retail establishment expect all of their employees to be trained in how to deal with dogs and cats?"

No, that is not what I'm suggesting at all. I think you're missing the point here. The point is that the store *allows* pets. And if it allows pets, it had better be prepared to know how to deal with them, as well as all the possible consequences that could result from allowing pets.

That's why I said Home Depot took the easy route out - by banning them. And why is it "over-the-top"? Well, you don't simply change your entire policy because of the actions of ONE person. It's just like saying, Company A will now close all its toilets because ONE person fell inside while using it. Firstly, why would Company A have to close all its toilets? Couldn't it have implemented a different policy to more closely and adequately address the issue of "falling inside toilets" rather than "close all toilets"? Closing all toilets would definitely prevent anyone from falling inside altogether, but it 1) too big an action to take; and 2) does not address the crux of the issue, which is, WHY the person fell inside in the first place.

Using the above analogy in this context, WHY did the employee get bitten? Ans: It was the result of a bad decision on her part. Does it involve anybody else? No. At most, you can say the incident COULD have been avoided had she been instructed beforehand NOT to touch pets.


12:17AM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

Suzanne, are you the Care.2 "counter police"? I don't have to "drop it" unless it's my choice or Care.2 instructs me to do so. It's also not up to a popular vote as to what is right or wrong. It's called a "discussion", and matters not if those who are not willing to use common sense outnumber those of us who do. No, majority does not "RULE". As long as someone comments and uses my name in it, it's my right to respond.

9:32PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Diane ... this argument dying a natural death would be for you to give up and leave it because obviously ... in case you have not been following the opinions (which is what all of these comments are about) you are outnumbered, majority rules, you lose. Drop it.

5:48PM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

I thought this discussion had died a natural death, but apparently not so. "It was also an over-the-top decision on the part of Home Depot to call for a ban on all pets (excluding service pets) because of a bad decision on the part of their ONE employee"....why, Ammy, is it over the top to have a policy that their hardware stores will not become pet stores for everybody to flaunt fido and fi fi around? Yes, this was ONE instance that ended in a person being hurt, and it was not the fault of ONLY the greeter having displayed little common sense, which I've said before, I agree with. The owner had no control over the dog, so YES, the owner was responsible as well. Are you suggesting that every retail establishment expect all of their employees to be trained in how to deal with dogs and cats? Should that be a job requirement to work at Target, Walmart, Safeway and every place else where the public goes to buy what they want or need? LEAVE Fido at home unless you're going to Petco or Petsmart, where dogs are welcome, unless Fido is a service dog that is necessary to assist you elsewhere.

9:14AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

"Every action has a consequence" - this is a basic rule in life and something which anyone of reasonable intellect would comprehend.

In this case, the greeter made a decision to pet an animal she was not familiar with. No one coerced her into making this decision, and neither was petting the dog a mandatory action she must carry out. In other words, she of her own free will, made this decision. Therefore, she ALONE must bear the risks involved in, and consequences of, making such a decision. (Risk = Dog may try to bite; Consequence = She may be bitten.)

To punish anyone else as a result of the greeter's actions is unfair. It was neither the fault of the owner nor the dog, because neither asked for the greeter to pet the dog in the first place.

It was also an over-the-top decision on the part of Home Depot to call for a ban on all pets (excluding service pets) because of a bad decision on the part of their ONE employee.

What they should have done was to have better training for their employees, especially on how to deal with pets, since their store allowed pets. But I suppose this would have cost a lot more money for them to implement (employee training = time + money spent). To employ a general ban on pets is their much more cost-efficient and convenient way of dealing with this incident - which could have been avoided in the first place, had the greeter been a bit more rational in her decision-making process.

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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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