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Should Non-Service Dogs be Allowed in Grocery Stores?

By Langley Cornwell

In the home improvement store last night, we stood in line with a collie and a hound dog while waiting for our duplicate keys. We stopped for frozen yogurt on the way home and sat at a table beside a French bulldog.

I used to think it was a big deal that you could take your dog along when you shopped at a big box pet shop. Now it seems you can bring your pet almost anywhere, and I’m mostly okay with that. But a west coast friend and I were discussing this trend and she said she’s seen more and more dogs showing up in grocery stores. I’m not okay with that.

Seeing dogs when I shop at an office supply store or a home improvement center is fine, even nice if they’re well behaved. Enjoying a cup of coffee or a light lunch al fresco among the animals is also fine, if the pet isn’t a nuisance. But I don’t want dogs in my grocery store.

This may sound hypocritical because our pets have no restrictions in our house. The dog is often right under my feet as I prepare dinner. But it’s our dog and our dog hair. Somehow, that makes a difference.

To get a reality check, I posed the question to some friends, all of them over-the-top animal lovers. Here’s a sampling of the responses:  

Juniper thinks it’s a bad idea all around. “I know that some dogs are better behaved than your average toddler, but many (if not most) can be unpredictable. They might jump on a kid, pee on the floor, tear into a bag of dog food, lunge at another dog... It's just a nightmare waiting to happen. It's also a health hazard.”

Debby says no. “What about shoppers who are allergic to dogs? I love dogs but where do you draw the line? If dogs are allowed, can I bring my gerbils in too? And my lizard and my parrot?”

Mary Beth also lines up with the no votes. “I love dogs. I think it would be fun to go grocery shopping with a dog, but I could see problems: accidents, dogs trying to eat food, barking and getting excited when they see another dog, and what if one got loose? How about those displays where things are piled up on the end of an aisle - if a dog hit one it could hurt him and make a mess.”

Deborah was adamant. “NO NO NO!  There are children in grocery stores running wild sometimes and you never know how a dog that isn't used to children will react. Plus, I don't want dog hair on my produce or my deli food or my meat. Let's face it, animals don't belong where there is food lying around open to the air. This applies to ALL animals, not only dogs. I would never take my cat into a grocery store, not even in one of those cute little totes.”

Jenne brings up the health issues: “No way, no how. You don't know the temperament of their dogs, bringing them into a place that sells food could lead to a lot of cross contamination, spreading of diseases and so forth. I'm also sick of people with little dogs who think they can just stick the dog in their purse and take it anywhere they please. And this is coming from someone who actually works in an animal shelter.”

Crystal says no. “I love dogs, especially mine, but not all dogs are well trained or well behaved. A grocery store should be clean, and I'm sure that some would have accidents on the floor. They might even lift their leg on the products, and that's disgusting! I wouldn't shop at a grocery store that allowed dogs that were not service animals.”

One of my friends is recovering from cancer. She brings up an excellent point: “There was a time when I could not be around dogs when I was getting chemo because of my immune system. Of course I wasn't up to shopping and would have had to wear a mask if I was – but still, it poses a health risk to many different people.”

Peggy relates a recent experience. “I was at a post office annex (in a gift shop) yesterday. A lady had a dog in line in front of me. It was well-behaved but it started barking at some dog statues on a shelf. It was hilarious, but no, dogs shouldn’t be in grocery stores.”

Some friends do think dogs should be allowed in grocery stores. Anne said “I'm more European in my approach and vote yes. People make a big deal about everything here but in France, dogs are very well behaved and go everywhere.”

Becky would like to allow some dogs. “If all dogs were well-behaved, yes. Unfortunately not all dogs are well-behaved, so I guess the answer is no.” Dan says “I think they're okay in stores. I like them!” Cathy answers with a sweeping affirmation. “I think dogs of all kinds should be allowed everywhere.”

So where do you draw the line? Do you think non-service dogs should be allowed in grocery stores?

Photo by OtterBox

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