Dogs at Grocery Stores: Yea or Nay?

By Maria Goodavage forDogster Magazine

The other day at my neighborhood Safeway, aBichon Frise wheeled by in the upper part of a shopping cart. A few minutes later, aCollie 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 aToy 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 evenher 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 unmistakableeau 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 aretaking 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 theSan 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 tome. Let’s talk!

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

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Cookie Fan
Cookie Fan2 years ago

Service dogs are trained to not sniff and/or touch anything they are on the ground and extremely well behaved. These pets do not belong in the grocery store. What about people with allergies? If you need your service dog that is one thing but you do not need your dog to go grocery shopping. That dog's butt has been on the ground why is it where we put groceries. It's very inconsiderate of other humans. Your dog won't mind being outside for a few minutes, or better yet leave him at home.

Maryam Khatami
Maryam Khatami2 years ago

When I am in the grocery store, I want to be sure everything is clean. I don't think dogs are clean and I don't care what everyone says about their dogs being a part of their family. It is not fair that I cannot put my grocery in the cart knowing that the dog bottom has been there earlier or his saliva and all other living things in their skin. it sickens me.

Christine Stewart
Christine S3 years ago

Most people can't even control their kids- do you really want their dog drooling/ peeing/ pooping in the supermarket? eww! Of course, I did come to the defense of a man who had a frail/elderly maltese on a pillow in the shopping cart- i told the store manager that ADA rules say that service dogs can attend stores with their owners, not just seeing eye dogs...(I have no idea why the guy brought the dog into the store, but I didn't want him to have to leave the poor little thing in the car!)

Mary Deforest
Mary Deforest3 years ago

In Spain, dogs sit under tables inside cafes. Well behaved german shepherds and hunting breeds-no yappy toys. Even in Spain-dogs are not in grocery stores-They have hitching posts outside to tie the dogs to.

When a child is in a grocery cart, the plastic flap is down, so the basket area seems somewhat cleaner than mentioned in the article. Apparently she never took a kid shopping. A person can always use a sanitation wipe to the seat area, before they put any produce in there.

Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants3 years ago

Anteaters in grocery stores? Yes!

Pat P.
Pat P3 years ago

(con't) Employees should reprimand parents of ill-behaved children, as well as caretakers of ill-behaved pets.

ELAINE A. has a point about all the germ-carrying humans in the stores, esp. those who commonly aren't hygienic after a trip to the restroom! When you look at the state of some of the bathrooms, can you imagine how many filthy hands are touching your food?! In addition, a lot of reviewed grocery stores in this country have been dissed for their filthiness and other health code violations.

Pat P.
Pat P3 years ago

A well-behaved dog on a leash would be no problem with me--although I would not like a store full of dogs walking around. That, most likely, would not often be an issue, since even in Petsmart, I don't see lots of animals in the store at once. Less of a problem is a small dog or a cat in a carrier. I couldn't see how anyone could complain about that, since they have no contact with food, cart or anything else. There have been many times after taking my cats to the vet, I have had various errands in the area that I could not do, even though my cat was in a carrier and would be absolutely no issue. I will not leave my cat in the car more than a a timed 2-3 minutes! Cats are highly susceptible to heat stroke!

Interesting also, is people who shop at Farmers Markets for the healthiest of food. They are in contact with lots of dirt, germs, bugs, hot weather (grocery stores are SUPPOSED to have accurate cold temperature control). In addition, pets are usually walking through the markets. What do people think about that?!

It is true, also, that, nowadays, more children in stores are poorly behaved. I was in a grocery store a few days ago, where 3 little children were running up and down the aisles, screaming, oblivious to other shoppers, and the store employees do nothing about it. One little monster almost knocked me down. Customers should not have to be the ones to complain. Employees should reprimand parents of ill-behaved children, as well as caretakers of ill-beh

Anita G.
Anita Gassner3 years ago

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.

Jandrel Andrel
i Andrel4 years ago

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

Tony Lee
Tony Lee4 years ago

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.