Thursday, August 23, 2012

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

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell


  1. I would have to be on the no side as well! I know how Finn acts in my kitchen just sniffing my dinner or breakfast. I can't imagine her in a whole store! BOL! On the other hand, I haven't seen any non-service dogs in our gardening store or office store. I would love to take her there just to let her see where we are going sometimes when we can't take her with us!

  2. “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.”
    I don't like the idea of FiFi sticking her nose into the Falafel.

  3. I do not know can you pay attention to what you are looking for and give the dog the watchful eye that it needs and deserves. You need two hands to push your grocery cart and pick out your produce. How would you hold the dogs leash? I would have to go with NO. My 2 labs stay home and rifle through the bags when I come home. LOL

  4. In England, dogs are allowed to ride public transportation, trains, buses, etc. I would love this for my dog. Grocery stores? I would feel OK if it was my dog,as far as some errand grocery shopping. But I wouldn't take her when I did my big shopping.She just loves to sniff the mail when it comes in, what would she do with grocery items? But not sure about the general population of dogs.


    Stella says: I'll be good! I'll be good!

  5. Seeing as how I helped to train a dog to be a service dog and know how much it takes to train these dogs and there are many many rules to taking the dogs into any kind of store. So I say NO to just any dogs allowed to go into a grocery store. There are so many things that can happen.

  6. I was going to spend the time to voice my opinion but Crystal in the article sums it up perfectly. I would think that 95% of people are going to feel this same way.

  7. I think that NO dogs who are not service dogs should ever be in ANY store setting..especially restaurant and grocery stores for all the reasons mentioned above but most of all, 1. I am allergic to dogs. My 2 days back scratch test at the allergist proves that. 2. It's unsanitary and intrusive if you are trying to have a meal.

  8. I LOVE dogs, but I just don't think bringing them to the grocery store is a good idea. So I'm going to vote "no."

  9. I don't believe children belong in BARS and don't believe dogs belong in a grocery store.

  10. I take Sheba into our local shop and she just sits at my side. Where there's food it's different though so i will say no to grocery stores. I've been told dogs shouldn't be in public places because they're dirty I've met a lot of unhygenic humans as well. I supose the thing to remember is not everyone is a dog lover.

  11. Good points. It does make a difference when it is your dog- We enjoy pets, but there is a limit.

    We don't actually want our pets around some of the humans we meet, or some of the dogs we meet in certain stores.

    Sounds smug, but we have to protect the pets from being exposed to who knows what-

  12. I love my pets and consider them a part of the family, but I do not believe dogs/pets belong in grocery stores or ANY public place that food is being served. I understand that a service dog is necessary, but they have different "rules". Most of the time they are wearing a vest (that cuts down on their hair/fur getting all over) and they are not allowed to be petted because they are "working". A non-service dog is still an animal and with all the bacteria and other "stuff" that affects our food sources I think it is pretty darn gross when a pet is in a grocery store. Especially when they are in the shopping carts where people have to put their food.

    Yes, I have seen people pushing their dogs IN THE SHOPPING carts. And they are not those little dogs in purses they are medium sized dogs IN THE CART! It is as if people have lost all common sense and common courtesy. If someone is ok petting their own dog or any dog then touching produce and other food items in their own home, that is their own business, but I don't think it should be allowed in stores.

    I believe there are places and times for things but not all things belong in all places at all times. Pets in stores and restaurants is not very polite.

  13. Living in a country that dogs are not allowed in most of the public places, it's a blessing that we can take our dogs to some limited sores like pet stores and that's the only place they are allowed in.

  14. For the allergy reason alone I would say no. Pet dander can get everywhere and you can't always see it. When it comes to the foods we buy in grocery stores we can't always wash them first. You can't wash bread before you eat it, like you can wash a shirt before you wear it.

  15. As a disabled person with a service dog, I have to say that only service dogs should be allowed in grocery stores. Despite the ADA and all the laws that guarantee my right to have my service dog with me in public places, I am always shocked by how many times my service dog and I are told to leave. To me, allowing non-service dogs into grocery stores will only cloud the issue and make it more difficult for those who need service dogs to be able to take their service dog with them. I would hate to have the law changed, forcing me to bring documentation of my need for a service dog.

    That being said, I do believe that those people with emotional support dogs should be given the same rights as those with service dogs, if the emotional support dogs are properly trained. People need the emotional support dog in public just as much, perhaps even more, as they do at home.

    I am also concerned about my service dog being exposed to untrained dogs. An untrained dog could attack my service dog, causing severe injury or even death. Of course, people could be attacked as well, but my personal concern would be for my service dog simply because I am unable to function without her.

  16. I grew up in Germany (Wuerzburg) and use to take my dog EVERYWHERE. The only place they were not allowed was the grocery stores and that is totally acceptable. Not because of behavior but for sanitary reasons. When I moved to the USA at age 26 I was very shocked at how dog unfriendly the USA really is. So what that you have pet stores and dog parks. I had having to take my dog home after a visit at the local petstore because I go anywhere else. That would be the reason why people don't socialize thier pets and they have so many dog bites here.
    I truely believe that the reason the USA has so many issues with dogs that are unsocialized and misbehaved IS because they are not allowed anywhere but the pet store. Sure Germany has dog fighting rings as well and aggressive dogs but generally those dogs are the ones that are chained and uncared for.


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