No More Dogs in Grocery Stores!

A couple weekends ago, I was surprised to see a man bringing a puppy into the Safeway on 15th. He was entering the store right behind me, so I turned around and asked, “Are you bringing that dog into the store?” This of course led to a confrontation, with me pointing out the sign on the door indicating that only service animals are allowed in the store, and him claiming that the dog was a therapy dog and putting it in the grocery cart, you know, where customers after him would put their food.

A few things: First off, that’s bullshit (which I told him in those exact words), and the kind of bullshit that hearkens back to this CHS post, where someone in the comments suggested that dog owners lie and say they have a service animal in order to bring dogs into food establishments. It’s a dick move and an utter abuse of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Besides that, even if a dog is a “therapy dog,” that’s still a step below a service animal as the ADA defines it: “Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” (And of course, they’re going by the legal definition of “disability” as well.) Sorry, but just being there for “emotional support” doesn’t count as a service as per federal law. Further delineation of this distinction can be found in the ADA FAQ and this edition of the USDA Animal Information Welfare Center newsletter. It’s pretty clear that a seeing-eye dog or a hearing-ear dog or a walking-leg dog counts as a service animal, while a feeling-fine dog does not.

A bigger problem: When I tried to get a Safeway employee to back me up, he shrugged and said that they generally turn a blind eye. So I took my complaint to the store manager, who stated that he wasn’t able to ask what the dog was for, because they could be sued.

Which is wrong. Again, from CHS:

We spoke to Hilary Karasz, an Information Officer with Seattle & King County Public Health, who confirmed that per state statute, animals are not allowed in eating and/or drinking establishments (nor grocery stores), with the exception of service animals. Karasz advised that employees are able to inquire as to what functions a service animal serves but cannot ask for proof of disability and/or that a pet is indeed a service animal, per federal statute (the Americans with Disabilities Act).

In this case, he wouldn’t have even needed to ask if it was a service animal, because it was an off-leash puppy in a shopping cart and obviously not a working dog. Stop being scared of lawsuits and grow some balls, Safeway. Enforce the law and keep non-service animals out of the store. I can’t do all the work for you.

(No more dogs in restaurants or bars either, but we’ll leave that for another time.)

60 thoughts on “No More Dogs in Grocery Stores!

  1. Holy crap. You might need to find a nice, quiet, relaxing hobby. Maybe some regular meditation would help you?

  2. Meh. What’s the dog gonna do, run through the heads of lettuce, peeing along the way? The items in grocery stores pass through so many unsanitary conditions already — I don’t think someone’s Golden Retriever is really going to change things.

  3. I agree with the author completely. Bringing pets into eating establishments willy nilly not only is a threat to public health and the well-being of other patrons, it’s an affront to the ADA, and it reflects poorly on the pussified pansies in charge of those establishments.

    To Seriously?, I think that too much meditation, crystal-gazing, and other forms of harness-the-positive-energy-in-the-universe attitudes are the root of the wishy-washy, out-of-touchy mentality that sadly permeates much of Seattle. It’s time to sack up and follow the rules.

    To sdb, yes, the little pup might run through and piss on items. It might rip open bags of food and strew them on the floor. It might startle patrons, or run amok in the deli section, or take a frightened shit in aisle five. Much food does come from unsanitary conditions, but adding a loose canine to the mix not only ups the ante, it makes shopping there downright disgusting. Leave your dogs at home.

    1. I have a regsterd service dog she two pound eight oz she staes in my shirt she is my lifeline she lets me know befor a ssigus cume on so i can get meds befor im laying on the floor shaking and off to the hosptil so just think about that not only that u are right the ones ho fake it fucks thing up for the peppel with real service anamals

  4. I don’t have a dog. Even if I did, I’d never take him to a grocery store. But I don’t really care if other people do. I’ve seen plenty of dogs in stores but never have I seen them shitting and pissing in them. And you’re adding in the “loose dog” bit as a scare tactic. When was the last time you saw a loose dog running through a store? This dog was in a cart (the same cart people put the asses of their kid’s soiled diapers), and other dogs I’ve seen indoors are leashed.


    1. Thanks for the comments, sdb. What really gets me about the whole thing is the mindset: people who think their widdle pumpkin is so precious that they couldn’t possibly leave it outside or at home, that they’re somehow so special they can opt out of federal, state, and local laws. These aren’t my rules, these are The Rules, and they exist for a reason. Welcome to Society.

      1. Audrey, like I have commented before whether you think so or not- i am a dog lover and my dog is my child. My family adopted him from the shelter. I just want you to think about what you just said and apply that to a child. of course I am sure you will only have another sarcastic comment about it so go ahead and leave it and I will reply. oh and you keep talking about the rules and laws- if you are being a defender of the law then I expect you to have never ever broken any rule or law otherwise you have no room to talk. I apologize for coming off as rude I just have been reading through the comments and a lot of yours come off as insensitive

        1. Sorry Honey, your dog is not a child. I have a dog and it is part of our family, but it is an effing animal and it is not afforded the same rights as people. You are rude and narcissistic to expect everyone else to put up with your dog in places they do not belong. But that is OK, right, as long as YOU are comfortable. It is selfish and rude, and an insult to physically impaired people who actually need guide dogs.

    2. I’ve seen a dog run down the aisles of a grocery store, THE PLACE I WORK AT! Some dog owners are just IRRESPONSIBLE. Stupid people!

      1. I think the whole entire argument comes down to the dog owner. There are irresponsible dog owners out there, but I think people forget there are also responsible dog owners. I for one would never let my dog run around a grocery store, because I know he is overly friendly and would want to pee on everything. I wouldn’t want to eat food laced with pee

  5. Jesus, dog hater. Get over yourself. They’re cleaner than children, now THOSE mongrels need to be kept hidden. Children the reason there is feces all over grocery store shopping carts- not dogs.

  6. I agree that it’s perverting the ADA law.

    That being said, I don’t give a flying squirrel if someone brings a dog, cat or bird into any establishment (with or without food). Is the animal well behaved? Then it’s cool.

    Hell, let’s be honest. Most of the dogs I see at bars are more behaved than the humans in there. And I figure if I’m paying for shit and my dog isn’t humping your leg at check out or walking on the lettuce, then I got a right.

    Moreover, my dog’s paws are probably cleaner than that kids’ hands.

    And I’m not going to entertain the “society” argument. I don’t think my dog is too cute or precious to be left outside. I just don’t give a fuck. Some rules are stupid. And no, I don’t have to follow them. So I won’t. Like jay-walking. I love jay-walking.

  7. I don’t mind people bringing any well-behaved animals into a store. I’ve seen plenty of babies and children meaner and nastier than even the worst dog.

    Even if it’s breaking the rules. Which, by the way, is also society.

    1. You’re right on the money. I have invisible disabilities and have used a service dog for 15 years. Guide Dog only signs are wrong. The ADA is fabulous protection for people with disabilities and allows us to lead more productive and satisfying lives. Remember that most of us will become disabled at one point in our lives – in other words, we’re all “temporarily abled”. I personally believe that any well-behaved dog should be allowed anywhere, but that’s not what the law says or the public expects. And any dog, service dog or not, can be legally asked to be removed from the premises if s/he is disruptive.

  8. The picture that says, “No Dogs except Guide Dogs” is waaay out of line. Service dogs do much more than guide the blind. I have a medical alert, medical response and mobility service dog. I don’t look disabled, but I am and my dog is a genuine service dog, just not a guide dog.

    Troy…Yes, you do have to follow the law. It’s a crime to say your dog is a service dog when it is not. You can go to jail, face heavy fines, and lose your rights to social security when you would otherwise be eligible. It also makes you a world class jerk. Pets don’t go through the 2 years of training our dogs do and are not as well behaved. If your pet dog decides he doesn’t like my service dog and attacks, you are liable for the damage to my dog (which is valued at about $60,000) and any medical damage done to me as a result. Pets attacking service dogs DOES happen and has resulted in more than one service dog having to be retired.

    No, the law isn’t stupid.

    1. I believe that sign is British, and they got their own rules. Your service animal, being a true service animal, is fine by me and well within the scope of the law.

      1. Jason said: “First of all a therapy dog could be used for mental disporders and/or emotional disorders.”

        FIRST OF ALL, you are incorrect. Therapy dogs live with a handler, pass rigorous tests and are insured to visit OTHER PEOPLE to make them feel better.

        SERVICE DOGS live with a disabled person (whether that disability is mental or physical) and serve ONLY THAT PERSON. There are psychiatric service dogs that live with people and interrupt their flashbacks, anxiety, etc. My SD is a medical alert and mobility assist dog. My disability is invisible, so I get “the look” from people wondering what’s wrong with that girl? Why does she have a dog with her all the time? It’s none of their business; she does her job and behaves like a model citizen. I love leaving a restaurant to a chorus of other diners saying as we pass “She is better behaved than most children!” or “We didn’t realize she was even here.” That is how a SD is supposed to act in public.

        What concerns me is that others, who do NOT have well-behaved, model-citizen dogs think it’s their inalienable right to take that dog everywhere with them. It puts my dog in danger, which puts me in danger.

    2. SD Handler– I want to be absolutely clear here: I completely agree that claiming an animal is a service animal when it is not is wrong. I do not do that. I do not condone that. At all.

      The law that I think is stupid and refuse to adhere to just because it is written is in outlawing non-service animals who are well behaved. And I refuse to lie about it.

      That being said, I now see the potential in certain confined areas that other pets attack service dogs (which would be incredibly horrible– I won’t even go on a rant about crappy pet owners). Thank you for presenting that to me.

      If I’m not going to follow a law because I don’t believe in it, I’m going to be honest about it. Otherwise, I’m just trying to get away with breaking the law and not making a point.

  9. Geez, Audry, lighten up. First of all a therapy dog could be used for mental disporders and/or emotional disorders. Secondly, lighten up. heck, even the non-dog owners are telling you to lighten up. That just makes it embarrassing for you.

    As long as the animal was well behaved, it’s okay by me. In fact, the owner might have been training the dog as a therapy/service animal and therefore needed to socialize him in places with lots of sights, sounds and smells. But I’m guessing there.

    Either way, take the stick out, you’ll sleep better.

  10. I’m happy to see so many opposed to this article. Sorry Audrey, Seattle is a city where there are roughly 45% more dogs than children. Get used to it.

    Suggesting someone leave a dog outside is ignorant and insensitive. Dogs in this city are stolen and poisoned that way. It infuriates me when I see a dog tied up outside a store or restaurant.

    As long as the dog is well behaved (and they are typically better behaved than children), I could give a tiny rat’s ass if there is one in a store or bar.

  11. Have any of you over-entitled dog lickers ever thought of the other store patrons who may have medical allergies to dogs? Or a philosophical fear of dogs? Or theological objections to handling merchandise that has just been pawed over by somebody right after they’ve gotten dog slobber all over their hands? Or who just plain have the unrealistic Kantian expectation that idiots good citizens will at least try to not egregiously flout the law and will attempt to hold up their end of the social contract, yes yes, huge senses of entitlement notwithstanding?

    I’m not suggesting you leave your dog outside; rather, I’m suggesting you leave your dog inside your flea-addled house because your dog does not need to come with you when you shop for freaking groceries.

    Actually, it’s not the dogs I’m hating on. I like dogs. It is the small minority of entitled, jerkbag dog owners that I hate. For the record, yeah, dogs are frequently more well- behaved than small children… probably because people are even worse at parenting their children than their dogs.

    1. First of all I do agree with some of what you said.
      Keeping the rights of both parties in mind. Those that have fears or allergies and those that need a service dog. What is to be done per the Dept of Justice is keep the ones with allergies as far apart as possible as fears and allergies are not legal reasons to bar a service animal from the building

  12. Wow, ever wander into a piece of the Internet that is bat-shit crazy?

    Not saying that applies here. Just thought I’d ask.

    First world problems*.

    * ok, all of my problems are first world problems too. just saying – if your biggest problem is that a dog has perhaps at one point sat in your grocery cart, you have a good life. Leave the poor grocery store employee alone.

  13. First off, with all due respect…you went just far enough to seem like an antagonist. This issue is one that I have made my life goal. I have a medical-alert animal and encounter ALL sorts of adversity on a day to day basis. My solution…Kindly Educate. It is even more difficult when my service dog just happens to be the cutest thing around town. The fact remains, I need him, and I need the people around me to respect the fact that I am doing my very best to live a normal, fulfilling life.

    There is a simple solution to all the access problems, it’s just a matter of getting more advocates. The public needs to stop waisting their efforts on complaining about the need for special vests, id cards, the fear of being sued, etc. Instead, these efforts should be put towards educating the public on how to identify SD’s and the proper etiquette when encountering a team.

    While I hate it, I do have a special vest for my dog that we use ONLY when traveling in the airport – who wants even MORE problems with TSA? I absolutely hate strapping a “SD” vest on him when going places, and many other Handlers feel the same way. Because there is no law governing the necessity of a identification vest, there are far too many companies selling fake vests online with no verification of whether the animal is specifically task trained or not. “Here, give us your 200 bucks and we’ll send you this SD vest”….This is horrible. I’ve met multiple people who do this and it breaks my heart. They do not understand the repercussions this has on ACTUAL SD teams. Someone bringing in their pet to a grocery store poses risks to everyone around if they are untrained, sick, aggressive, etc. You are very right when you say the management needs to stand up and stop being afraid of law suits. This is so easy if they would take a moment to understand and train their staff! Forget identification vests…that one has already been tainted…OBSERVE. When encountering a person in a store, it should take you no more than 10 seconds to observe if the dog is not a service dog. An SD is not going to behave like a pet. If you notice no misbehaving but are still not sure, kindly ask (with a darn smile on your face, please) “Is that a SD?” If the response is no, ask them to remove the animal. If the answer is yes…well there you have it. Here is where people seem to get confused: Just because they say yes, does not mean anyone can get away with it. If you doubt the validity of their statement, DO NOT BE COMBATIVE….continue to observe the behavior and demeanor of the dog. Visibly unhygienic, jumping, barking, playing, and wandering are all key indicators that the animal is NOT an SD. At this point, you can kindly address the handler and let them know that due to the observed behavior of the dog, the company policy requires you to inquire further the validity of their claim. DO NOT ASK what the SD is for. You can only ask, what functions does your SD perform to mitigate your condition? How does your SD serve your needs? Or you can even say that you noticed some unfitting behaviors of that of an SD and if they need to take a moment to manage the situation. It is also possible that other employees or customers are unknowingly being inappropriate in trying to get the SD’s attention, and the best SD can still get distracted when surrounded by uneducated people. This would be your responsibility to respectfully ask the other patrons to cease their behavior.

    Really, it is simple. Remember that people with a real need for their SD’s have no desire to make their lives any more difficult than they already are…so PLEASE be kind. We deal with this day to day and our SD’s are just another part of us…If I could leave my diabetes at home before going out to dinner…Heck! Sign me up! Respect that we are just trying to live as normal of a life as you are blessed with. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at nkreiner88 at gmail. Thanks for reading :)

  14. I agree that non-service animals should stay home. Dog owners, please show some consideration for your fellow shoppers. You wouldn’t take your dog into a clothing store or boutique, would you? Because it is rude to get dog hair on the merchandise. Well it is rude to do the same in the grocery store. True service animals are an exception, obviously.

  15. I am disabled and I have a service dog for mobility assistance. Several weeks ago we were in the local Safeway when we ran into what looked like another service dog team coming down the aisle. Wrong, it was an untrained and unfriendly dog. Store staff just turned their heads. The other dog lunged at Pique grabbing her by the ear then the throat. There was a lot of blood and the resulting vet bill ran over $1000. Worse Pique has stopped working for me and is now afraid of other dogs. I now have to retrain or retire her and get another service dog. Keep you damn dogs out of stores and away from us. You’re untrained dogs pose a health risk and hazard to our service dogs. By the way if you don’t know it costs about $25,000 to put a service dog on the street to work.

  16. Just the other day I was at a deli and a woman came in with ‘Scruffy’ in her arms, medium sized dog, long hair, ring-around-the-piehole face…you get the picture. I explained I was allergic and she said she would take the dog out. Did she? No. So, first off, she’s a liar! Next, she stood next to me and my sandwich, while I waited to get the rest of my order, ‘Scruffy’ was sniffing at my food, I had to move over. She did not identify her dog as a service animal. I repeated my request for her to take the dog out. She said “Why don’t YOU leave the store?” Her mate/hubby/partner began to yell at me to “Chill out, relax, get a life!”. The deli clerks refused to get involved. So Mr. Bullyman continued on with his ranting. Until Scruffy growled at another patron going by. Still, they did not leave the store!
    So who is at fault here? Could the woman have waited outside? Why should I have to be bothered by a dog sniffing my food in a store where clearly it did NOT need to be? What if that animal were to bite someone? Should we have to worry about that? I’m NOT talking trained service dogs here. I’m talking pets and attention cravers who can’t leave them at home!

    1. The people at fault are the people who operate and run the grocery store. They should have immediately told that idiotic woman and her hubbie to leave the store immediately. But we now live in a world where nobody wants to challenge the morons dragging dogs around, mainly because these jerks have learned that if they throw a huge fit they will get their way, just like a toddler gets his or her way in the midst of a tantrum now that spanking is a taboo. Welcome the to the limp lower lip generation’s method of bullying to get one’s way.

  17. I cannot people have gotten so damn stupid and/or narcissistic that they think that bringing a mut into a grocery store is acceptable. There is positively no good reason for ever doing so, even in the realm of a service dog. A grocery store is a place where people working there have to wear gloves, masks and hairnets, but now due to the in-duh-viduals with dogs all of that is really for naught. What next, people with cats, snakes, gerbils, and even horses are going to be trying to drag these into grocery stores under the premise that they cannot get through a trip to the grocery store without them? And as far as service dogs let’s be real; the vast majority of people getting them have minor depression. And even those who are deaf or blind do not need them to get groceries. They just now see a chance to bend the rules. Do people with service pets now need them in a hospital operating room? I am so sick of idiots with pets; it is really an example of extreme stupidity and unbelievable narcissism. As far as I concerned, the moment you get a pet your IQ drops 50 percent, and each additional pet you get it goes down another 25 percent.

  18. OMG!! I agree with you wholeheartedly, Audrey! And these idiots with the “ah, who cares, it’s just a little doggy” attitude can go rot in hell! I’m ready to write all of WA’s legislators to put a stop to this unsanitary madness. They can easily write a bill that specifies that a legitimate service dog be clearly marked with a saddle-back sign or vest and that they NOT be allowed in shopping carts under any circumstances! I’m so sick and tired of stores catering to the minority and not the majority of us who hate this disgusting practice! I’ve seen this at Walmart, Lowes, restaurants, etc. C’mon!

    1. I actually think you are the minority here. and I am going to go ahead and try to do the opposite of what you are through the WA. if my animal is well behaved, clean in a crate(there are stores that sell these oh so unsanitary things), into a store. If some one has an issue with allergies or my dog starts misbehaving I would have no problem leaving. if you are so worried about sanitation then you should not leave your house because germs are everywhere

  19. Man,Reading some of these responses explains a lot to me. It seems as the K9 is now placed well above the human species.Ive seen dogs in cafes, grocery stores, I was tripped by a leash at home depot.I have neighbors that have dogs that bark 20 hours a day,poop in the common road ( not to mention my lawn) I guess im one of those people that needs to “pull the stick out” Im such a jerk that this crap pisses me off!!

  20. The pervasive laissez faire attitude regarding canines in public buildings offers a constant, unpleasant reminder of what happens when you blend provincial arrogance with a spineless constituency.

  21. Oblivious and obtrusive dog people are right next to agro-bike-Nazi-cut-you-off-in-traffic-guy as the most obnoxious and in need of remedy societal issue that I hope the new Almost Live skewers. Portlandia has poked fun at this lack of self awareness that permeates down there, its time Seattle became aware of how obnoxious the oblivious dog people are. Double standards suck-recognize.

    1. the people on this blog are unbelievable you know what screw trying to be nice- not all dog owners are like this. That is like if i were to say all non animal owners have something stuck up there butt type of annoying personalities

  22. well with my pups when they were younger went with me everwhere but most of the time i obed the rules and the few times i took one with me rto wallmart i put my jacket or hoodie under it so it wouldnt touch the cart lol

  23. Dear child hater, Do you really know how many germs dogs carry? I do not want to put my child or my food in a place a dirty animal has been. Please keep your dog out in the back yard where they belong. This can effect people with real service dogs.

  24. To the in-duh-viduals with dogs, here is my theory: The moment you get one your IQ drops 50 percent, and each additional dog you get it goes down another 25 percent. I believe this fully explains the supposed need to drag one into a grocery store.
    And to DannyZippers, I want to thank you for such a wonderful crafting of words for writing above that pets in public buildings are an “unpleasant reminder of what happens when you blend provincial arrogance with a spineless constituency.” That statement simply rules.

    1. and apparently when you don’t have a dog you become a very arrogant individual. not every single dog owner is stupid or inconsiderate of others.

  25. Thanks for the article, Audrey. I think it brings up some really important points for Seattle residents. Personally, I agree that non-service dogs should not be permitted in grocery stores or other food and beverage establishments. I have been an animal-lover my entire life and am hoping to get my first very own puppy this summer. I look forward to taking him out and about–but not inside places that prepare and serve food.

    Owners of service dogs have given us stories of their dogs being attacked by non-SDs in public areas, and I think this is horrible. Anyone who has ever encountered a truly trained SD knows it’s not your average pet. I’m sure most people won’t appreciate this comparison, but I would describe service dogs as regular dogs whose sparks have been snuffed out. I say this having only seen SDs for a few moments at a time in very busy, very public situations where absolute adherence to training is essential, so it makes sense that there is no room for any of that spontaneous behavior. After all, someone’s life could be at stake.

    Perhaps some people would be willing to compile more comprehensive arguments for their points? Personally my argument is dogs (and I say dogs because I think mini-horses are quite rare as service animals) shouldn’t be in restaurants and grocery stores for two main reasons.

    Whether or not children should be allowed in grocery stores is orthogonal and I don’t think it does anything but cloud the issue. For this reason I am not addressing that argument and its points.

    1) Dogs tend to shed fur and dander and can carry and spread many diseases, some of which can be transmitted to humans. I don’t want these things on my food, clothes, or person when I am purchasing food, drink, or groceries.

    I don’t think it’s hypocritical to be accepting of one’s own pets in one’s own home. That said, I ensure the food I prepare in my kitchen does not contain pet hair. I don’t have a la-de-da attitude with that. Maybe it’s a preference, maybe it’s a mindset–I just don’t want to ingest parts of my pets. And I know where my pets go, what they eat, how often they are cleaned, which vaccinations they have, and what their medical histories are! I don’t know these things about strangers’ pets and I’m enough of a misanthrope that I don’t trust other people to be conscientious owners so I assume the worst.

    For a list of illnesses people can get from dogs, here is the CDC’s website.

    If my pets were to get a communicable illness for whatever reason, I would not want them to pass it to others. If grocery stores were to allow dogs, it’s very possible they would transform into a short step above common dog parks and the chance for diseases would increase dramatically. In the past few years we’ve had quite a few parvo outbreaks in Western Washington. Here’s just one story from Google.

    2) Dogs can behave in unpredictable way, which can result in bites to other animals or people. A dog may also urinate, defecate, vomit, bark, run, or growl, among other undesirable behaviors.

    Be honest: pretty much everyone knows another person (or is that person) who has a sketchy dog and this dog will bite. It may be due to anxiety or fear or aggression but it really doesn’t matter–a dog bite often is a very traumatic experience–and very preventable–experience.

    The person whose dog bites knows that their dog bites. They try to keep an eye on it. But they can’t watch their dog 100% of the time, especially when their primary focus isn’t their dog but their groceries. So the dog bites someone. And there are actual dog-bite attorneys who are more than happy to help the person sue your buns off.

    These behaviors are, of course, extremes. Most behaviors that are encountered every day are not this extreme but are incredibly annoying. A dog that does not respect the boundaries of others is probably #1 on that list. While there are some people who don’t mind a strange dog walking directly to them and smelling their ass, there are some people who do.

    Assuming you have a well-groomed, vaccinated, well-behaved dog…

    Well, it sucks to be you because there are a lot of people whose dogs are not all of those things. So any time one of these ill-trained beasts misbehaves in public, it gives a bad name to all good dogs and responsible owners. Feel free to address the problem yourself and attempt to restore some dignity to the perception of Seattle dog owners. I personally would be happy to switch things up on a trial basis if all the dogs were properly behaved and maintained.

    Of course, trained service dogs don’t have the behavioral problems but may have health issues. Until service dog status–or the health of all dogs–is more tightly regulated, the ADA will continue to provide service dogs with carte blanche on this.

    Unfortunately, service dog status is not federally regulated status. I say “unfortunately” because if there were a certification that owners could obtain, then they could very easily count themselves as proud owners of truly licensed, regulated, and trained service animals. Just as a restaurant must pass a variety of health codes, I think it would be incredibly beneficial to regulate service animals: for the dogs, the owners, and the public–both the ignorant and the informed. Fringe benefits could be that all owners also receive a medical ID card or bracelet indicating the services their animal performs in case of accident or emergency, and that this certification could assist in insuring service dogs for the full value in case of accident, illness, injury, or death. (These are, of course, hypothetical.)

    It is very possible that if such legislation were to one day be enacted, these canines would be considered the models of behavior for all other dogs. Maybe that would have a ripple effect, where their conduct comes to be accepted as the standard and the minimum level of training expected of all pets is significantly improved.

    On a separate issue, I have read conflicting information on how to approach a customer with a dog and whether it is a service animal. The WA State Human Rights Commission site states that the customer may be asked if the animal is required because of a disability. When I worked in a doctor’s office, we were instructed not to ask any questions if a patient were to bring a dog, as even asking questions could open us up in terms of liability.

    I hope people continue to examine this issue and their beliefs surrounding it. Open, constructive conversations should always be welcome.

  26. Who are YOU to judge if a person or their animal qualifies as a service animal? Nobody has to tell you diddly-squat. It’s because of spoiled, self-centered people like this that the law IS required. you are nothing more than a bully beating up on disabled people. You make me want to throw up.

  27. I agree that there are many risks when owners bring their dogs into stores that are not service dogs or guide dogs. However, as a dog owner there are times when I need to go somewhere and have my dog and feel uncomfortable leaving him in my car or tied up outside. I don’t know how other people feel about there dogs, but he is like my child. My question to you Audrey is,would you be okay with a dog being in the store if the dog were in a crate? I have a cocker spaniel and I would have no problem putting him in his crate and setting the crate in the cart. Technically I know it is still against the law, but would people make a huge deal about it? Thanks

    1. Hi Jen, Thank you for your reasonable tone. For circumstances where you are torn between leaving your dog in your car or tied up outside, I would humbly suggest a third option: leave the dog at home.

    2. Thanks for taking the time to comment. However, you did not answer my question, would you be against having a dog in a store if it were clean, behaved, and contained in a crate? Sometimes leaving him at home is more of a cruel option cause that would mean him being inside for hours with no way to go potty. Also, may i make a suggestion-if you are going to write something for the public to see and don’t want unreasonable responses, I would leave out curse words and make your tone more reasonable. I get where you are coming from, but while I was reading your article it came off as rude and insensitive. I think your arguments are valid and I understand what you are saying, but maybe it would have been better written in a nicer way.

  28. I feel Jen’s pain. There are often times where leaving your dog outside a store (weather’s too hot or cold or wet) feels less of an option.

    But that said — and I think this is more of the urban issue — it doesn’t really have much to do with any one person’s dog, how well behaved they are, how clean they are, or whether they’re running free or in a crate. The problem arises from the number of dog owners in a city like Seattle, and whether public health and safety can be maintained if that many people feel free to disobey the law based on convenience.

    It’s a bit like cell phones. In general, everyone feels they are still safe drivers while using a cell phone, but everyone also has a story about being nearly run over by an oblivious caller/texter. SOMEONE out there is not driving safely.

    Same with dog owners, to the extent that the behavior (“I’m just running in for a minute –> 5 minutes –> 15 minutes”) tends to creep, and then stores have dogs in them all the time. Chances grow much higher that two dogs may get into a fight, or a dog will have an “accident,” or someone will have an allergy attack. I can imagine parents who put their baby in a shopping cart might not look kindly on a dog having just vacated that space, even if yours is like someone’s child. Parents are understandably hyper-germphobic.

    I don’t see an easy way around this, other than dog owners accepting that dog ownership comes with some limitations and responsibilities. Although I think a grocery store in a dog-crazy neighborhood would do well if it created a dog lobby, where dogs could wait for their owners.

    1. I wanted to bring up some points with you- To start off I was not trying to suggest everyone break the law I was just trying to ask a question to figure out if the real issue is having dogs in stores only on a leash and they are okay with dogs being contained in a crate. If that is the issue my thinking was maybe there is a way to change the law to make it easier for dog owners.

      “I can imagine parents who put their baby in a shopping cart might not look kindly on a dog having just vacated that space, even if yours is like someone’s child. Parents are understandably hyper-germphobic.”- to make a point shopping carts are disgusting even before putting my dog in a crate in the cart. The world in general is full of germs.Also, many stores sell dog crates and it would be the crate not my dog touching the cart. Furthermore, since I am not out to try and make people uncomfortable since I understand owning an animal comes with responsiblility, maybe if the law was changed they could create carts just for dogs.

      My first question was not about how people feel about the law and whether people abide by it, I am simply curious what the biggest issue people like Audrey have with having dogs in stores. of course I know the obvious dangers of germs ’cause dogs will want to pee everywhere and dogs fights, but if the dog is contained in a crate and behaving if it would be this huge issue. And of course if someone was deathly allergic I would go to a different store because I don’t want them to die. I would just want to be asked nicely.

      “I don’t see an easy way around this, other than dog owners accepting that dog ownership comes with some limitations and responsibilities.”- I think this goes both ways. The public needs to accept that pets are members of the family to a lot of pet owners. Thank you for reading my comment.

      1. So, Jen, to be clear, if you bring a dog that is not a certified service animal into a grocery store, you’d be breaking the law. A grocery store is considered a food establishment, and stringent health code laws apply there as well. The law currently makes no distinction between leashed or crated, and I doubt that it’ll get changed because animals can still contaminate food while in a crate. It’s just not a good place for animals — food establishments labor under regulations that Type-A neatniks can find hard to comply with, let alone pets. It’s not about how likely an event might happen (urine escaping a crate, for instance) but about making contamination *unlikely* to happen.

  29. We are having the same problem with dogs in stores in California. I’m not into all of the back and forth banter. I just want to know what can be done. Who do I call or write to take some action against animals in stores? Can we file a lawsuit against the stores? Let’s take some action!

  30. Take a video with your cell phone, tell a store employee, and if they don’t do anything about it call your local county health inspector and let them know you have the video.

  31. I’ve consulted with a few people about this issue and they suggest any or all of the following actions of protest:

    1) Contact the store manager via email or us mail and report the dog.
    2) Contact the corporate office via email or us mail and report the dog.
    3) Report the dog sighting to the County Health Inspector.
    4) Going forward, make note of ANY health code violations that you see in the store (expired products, cold products not in a refrigerator, dirt in the store, etc.) and consistently report these to the County Health Inspector.
    5) Write a bad review on Yelp exposing the store as being dirty and violating Health Code regulations.
    6) Report any dog that barks or growls while in the store to local Animal Control as a threat to your safety. They will be required to follow up with the store.

  32. MIND YOUR OWN DAMN. I would rather have my dog in my shopping cart than most children, I used to work at Safeway and I’v seen what people do in the carts, they bring in their sick children with green snot running down their face onto the handles of the cart, it just doesn’t seem to bother them. what about the sick babies that leave behind diarrhea? It makes me sick to my stomach. And then there is the cans that have all sorts of crap in them, from slime, cigarette butts, spit, mold and I even found a hypodermic needle in one, more than once, who knows what else is in those cans that get dumped in to the carts. Beware of the dirty sticky carts.I think a better topic would be a cart washing law in the markets? My dog is washed, clip’d and has his nails done every two weeks or more as needed and de-flead once a month. I also will not ever put my dog on any public bathroom floor! I always put down clean baby blankets into the carts before i let my dog sit in the cart! How about the head lice that crawl off the children before the mom finds out they even have it? Disrespectful people that bring a mean or untrained dogs into any store should be asked to leave immediately, that’s just bad ownership. Stop invading our privacy and have some respect our need for our dogs! GET A LIFE PEOPLE AND LEAVE US AND OUR DOGS ALONE!!!!

  33. CH: If you met me in Wal Mart you would think there is no health problems with me, Just a older lady with her pet. You would be wrong, I have diabetes and I have a small poodle, yes she is trained to detect my low blood sugar and I have CVD with no chest pain warnings, some people call it silent heart attacks. I continually train her with outings to public businesses. We continually work on her manners. I do as much CE hours to learn how to continually train her to respect the public. She is well behaved no barking, etc. If she should ever misbehave i,e, barking I would leave the public area. I also would leave a public area when my daughter or grandchildren would act up. I need my service dog for my health but I also respect other people. When in a crowded area I pick up my 6# SD to 1. protect others from falling over her because they are not watching where they are going and 2. to protect her from being injured. I keep her away from food, she is not allowed to be in the produce or meat area. She is either on the floor or in my arms while my husband picks out the food. If she is in a cart I always put down a barrier of some kind. I use Lysol or disinfectant wipes before and after she has been in the cart. I do not believe any parents goes this far to clean carts before or after their children use the carts. When we go out to eat I choose a booth that is out of the way where most patrons are eating. No I do not have to but I do this to be respectful to others. She is trained to sit or lie at her choice under the table. Again I place a barrier on the floor for her protection since not all floors are all that clean. We have had one accident and I always carry poo bags, Lysol wipes, and it was cleaned up with in seconds. Her accident is not as bad as children having accidents in a public area but you do not see parents cleaning up the area after the children. My SD is vet checked every 6 mo. more often if something comes up. She has had all her vaccinations, she is groomed by a groomer ever 3 weeks, bathed by me if needed in between grooming visits, she is brushed before we leave the house. I try to go the extra mile to take care of her because she takes care of me. We try to think of others. Why can the public be so narrow minded about service animals. Our SD’s are just another tool to help us with our condition. If you see me having to inject insulin demand I not inject myself with the needed medication, If you see me having to take a nitro because I am having angina or chest pain get mad, throw a temper tantrum, demand I leave the building. If you see a person having a seizure would you demand the business not allow that person to ever return to the business. This is modern times not mid EVIL times. Try educating yourself about all the medical alert SD can take care of. Try a little compassion for others that are not luck enough to have the good health you have been blessed with.

  34. Service dogs start out as puppies, and depending on when socialization and training begins are afforded the same rights as “working” service dogs.

    There is, however, a difference between a service dog and a a therapy dog, as I believe was pointed out earlier. The author of this post is correct – a person with a Therapy dog would likely know the difference between a Service dog and a Therapy dog and would (one would hope) NOT attempt to bring a Therapy dog into a store!

    Therapy dogs do not operate under the laws made for service dogs, and are not allowed in grocery/food establishments. Other establishments have the right to allow or refuse Therapy dogs, provided there are no specific laws banning dogs in the type of establishment.

    Some people confuse Psychiatric Service Dogs with Therapy dogs. A psychiatric service dog has to do more than just provide comfort to the owner – they are required to perform at least two tasks that help that person function. Things like getting medication, alerting, etc.

    A Therapy dog’s function is to provide comfort to others, generally in situations where there is some impairment of the person or people being visited: Hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, schools, libraries (READ dogs are Therapy dogs,) victims of crimes, disasters, etc. (The famous Lutheran Services Golden Retrievers are examples of “Comfort” dogs who are actually therapy dogs.) Emotional Support dogs generally fall into the rough category of Therapy dogs.

    There are therapy dogs who actually work with professionals (either their own or as a dog/owner team in conjunction with a professional) to assist in Animal Assisted Therapy. An example of this would be the many Therapy dogs who have assisted veterans with post traumatic stress disorder.

    A puppy generally will not qualify as a Therapy dog by any of the companies who certify and insure Therapy dogs – because they cannot pass the rigourous testing/training and certification process. As a matter of fact, most companies have a minimum age requirement. Of course, there are animals who operate as Therapy dogs who are not certified, but regardless, they still do not have the same rights as Service dogs, and aren’t allowed in grocery stores.

    To identify a service dog, a business is allowed to ask if a person has a disability, but NOT what the disability is = straight from the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights division: “Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.”

    In addition, to further evaluate whether or not the dog is a service dog, one may ask what tasks the dog performs.

    Even if a state or local law provides for differing actions/questions about a service law, the Federal law overides.

    It seems to me that sometimes a business, despairing of being able to train their employees on these two questions, simply tell them NOT to question, ever, for fear of being opened up to lawsuits.

    A service dog may be ejected from a facility if it is disruptive. The owner may not be banned.

    As a disabled person, I dread the day when the ignorance of others causes Service dogs to have to be identified by special leashes, harnesses, etc., certification processes, training, or special liscences, or any other such “Identification” that may cause increased cost, time, or hardships on those who own and use them.

    1. And by the way, I shudder at the thought of being issued an identifying bracelet to wear identifying me as disabled if I should use a service dog, as mentioned above! Can you imagine! What if it were forgotten, or broke? Clasps can be difficult to manipulate, swelling of extremities can be an issue.

      Vests and harnesses are expensive, by the way – as mentioned above can sometimes cost upwards of $200 to $250.

      Besides, who wants to be “identified” as disabled? It may be obvious when entering an establishment with a service dog there is a disability, but now, one would be able to, for instance, walk down a street without advertising the fact.

      Perhaps a tatoo would be more permanent solution? Now, would that go on the owner or the dog or both??

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