Is Oregon Too Dog Friendly?

 |  Sep 3rd 2009  |   30 Contributions


If you've ever been to a PetSmart store you know you can bring your "well-behaved" dog in, of course we all know the meaning of that is very subjective. What's inappropriate to some is sometimes thought of as cute by the dog owner.

Since PetSmart is a pet supermarket it's one thing to allow dogs, what if you were walking in your local grocery store and you saw someone with their dog, not a service dog, would it bother you? What about if the dog went to the bathroom in the store?

In Portland's Pearl District this is happening, it's become dog owners versus non-dog owners. Dogs are now frequently seen in grocery stores and in the last year the food safety division of Oregon's Agriculture Department has received over 600 complaints about this issue.

The New York Times has the details on what's happening in Portland.

"Usually they'll hold off and not make a complaint until they've seen a dog urinate in the grocery store or jump up and try to swipe a pack of meat," said Vance Bybee, the head of the food safety division. "Or they've seen dogs pooping in the aisle, that sort of thing."

In response to the complaints, Oregon is about to begin an unusual campaign, distributing posters and pamphlets to about 4,500 retail stores that sell food. The message is this: Animals, except those trained to help the disabled, are not allowed.

The campaign, however, is not likely to make the problem go away, state officials and dog owners say, particularly in a neighborhood like the Pearl District, where many people who are not physically disabled consider the company of their pets therapeutic and insist on taking them just about everywhere. Some banks put water bowls by their front doors, and dog day-care facilities take time to serve pets the specially packed lunches their owners make for them.

The Pearl District, developed by Hoyt, was built on an old rail yard and is one of Portland's downtown neighborhoods. It is an upscale newly developed area with condominiums, retail shops, parks, and dog-passionate residents. The project which began in the 1990's didn't start out trying to build a place for dog lovers to live, it just sort of happened. Being dog friendly has now become central to its identity. Tiffany Sweitzer, who is the president of Hoyt, even has her dog Scout featured prominently in their advertising.

Do you think non-service dogs should be allowed in stores? What about food stores? Does that cross a line? Give me a bark, let me know what you think.

* Pic courtesy Leah Nash for The New York Times

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