Pets in Grocery Stores is a Safety Issue

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    Amy West Seattle

    While shopping in the Alaska Junction QFC store today, I noticed 4 pet dogs. I just want to suggest that people consider their neighbors before bringing their pets into the grocery store. Please consider the safety for individuals who do have service animals and may want to shop in this store. Having pets in a store can be a distraction to a service animal and places that owner at risk of being harmed. Pets in a store makes it difficult for individuals to understand the difference between a pet who can be stopped and petted and a therapy dog who cannot without risking harm to their owner. Please also consider our fellow community members who fear dogs and what this does to their sense of safety. Lastly, please consider the harm this may cause individuals with allergies to dogs. The smoke these few weeks have been hard enough and this only adds to the issues of those who are already compromised. While you may prefer to have your pet by your side whenever possible, is it worth harming our community members? I also want to thank the QFC staff for being understanding and kind when I shared my concerns above.



    People misunderstand the difference between a Service Dog and an Emotional Support Dog as well as the rights afforded each. A Service Dog is a highly trained dog trained to perform specific tasks to help mitigate a person’s disability—-a condition that is medically diagnosable and meets the definition of disability in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Such a dog has virtually impeccable behavior when working (e.g., no sniffing around, no jumping up on others, no pulling at the leash, no growling at other dogs, no greeting other dogs) and is allowed access to all public places. An Emotional Support Dog is not trained to provide a specific task. Providing companionship and making their owner feel comforted is not a specific task. They can do that by virtue of their presence and relationship, but it is not a trained behavior that mitigates a condition that rises to the level of a formally diagnosable disability. ESAs have certain rights in housing and on airplanes (but the airplane part is so frequently abused that it’s likely to change), but they do NOT have the right to access public places such as stores. While some ESAs have excellent manners and training as companion dogs (good obedience skills and a Canine Good Citizenship certificate, for example) they still are not legally permitted in stores and restaurants. Many people who do bring their dogs into public settings call them Service Dogs when in actuality they are, at best, ESAs because their owners find their presence comforting. If asked they might claim the dog alerts them to something like low blood sugar, a skill that would be very hard to observe as it at most only occurs intermittently, but you can tell just by observing the dog pulling at the leash and sniffing at items on the shelves or floor that in reality it is not a trained Service Dog. A Service Dog would be totally and continuously focused on the handler, or in the case of a person with certain emotional symptoms such as hyper vigilance, scanning the environment for possible dangers, or a hearing dog on alert for unusual or dangerous sounds paying attention to nearby sounds, and then be trained to perform a tangible and observable “alert” behavior to inform the person. Judging by the behavior of most dogs I see in stores it is highly unlikely they are Service Dogs.



    LBD is correct that service dogs are easy to spot and their training makes them VERY well behaved. Emotional support animals are needed by some but the “need” for one has been so abused it’s a joke.That said, the rest of the dogs you see in stores are there simply because their owners DON’T CARE. They’re sure they and their dog’s are “special” and are above the law. These are the same people that let their dogs run loose on the beach.



    I no longer shop at that QFC because of that reason. I saw too many dogs on long leashes roaming the aisles and dogs wrapped up in blankets like babies tucked in on the upper part of the cart. When I saw a dog sniffing the fruit while their owner was chatting on a cell phone, I complained. I was told there was nothing they can do. Thankfully there are so many other stores to shop at. I’m not sure about Seattle’s love affair with dogs going everywhere and ignoring laws, I’m especially amazed at how many big dogs come out of those tiny apartments, poor dogs.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by LoveWS.


    Same thing Sunday at Trader Joes. This guy brought his dog in, invited anyone around to pet him (which they did), all while declaring he was a “certified therapy dog”. Please. The dog was acting like any other dog in a park – interacting with everyone and everything around it. People are just selfish, disgusting jerks.



    Some of us have nearly had our dogs stolen while leaving them tied up outside a store. Yeah, I agree there are some who abuse that “service/therapy” dog stuff but not all of us are selfish disgusting jerks LOL



    In my opinion, places where dogs belong: your house, your fenced yard, on a leash outside, camping or hiking. Places where dogs don’t belong: grocery stores, festivals, concerts, playgrounds, city park beaches, off-leash outside, and restaurants, with a few exceptions for places that are designed to be dog friendly. I have a dog, and those are the rules I follow.

    And another thing, people who cheat the system and falsely claim their dogs are service dogs are no different from non disabled persons who park in disabled persons parking spots.



    I agree with Sunuva.
    Yesterday we went to Alki for dinner and while driving home I noticed a dog (small one) just sitting on the sidewalk outside a restaurant not tied-up looking so sad while waiting for its people(s)…and I thought to myself why would you just leave your dog outside a restaurant not tied to anything and expect it to still be there when you got done with your meal or “drinks”?! Leave your dog at home for that couple of hours your gone, it would be much more happy and comfortable there.



    Please don’t leave your dogs tied up outside the stores. You can’t leave them at home for a bit?? I get tired of having dogs jump on me as I’m entering and leaving stores, and everywhere else. I’m with Sunova, I love dogs but Seattle is getting way out of hand with allowing them everywhere.



    I was bitten by a dog that was tied up outside of Jax. It was pretty shocking and I had to fight the urge to smack it back. Why people drag their dogs everywhere, I don’t know.



    FWIW, it’s illegal to leave your dog tied up outside an establishment in the city of Seattle. Not implying I agree or disagree with the law, but a heads up for those who do so. It is also illegal to impersonate a service animal starting on January 1, 2019 in the state of Washington.



    I’ve written service animal policies for businesses in the City of Seattle. Important notes: 1) there is no official training or certification for service animals. Yes they can be highly trained, but there are no regulations or licenses required by any government entity.

    2) Federal ADA differentiates service animals as being ONLY dogs and miniature horses. It defers to local jurisdictions who may widen that scope.

    3) Seattle and King County also allow any other animal to be a “service animal”, cats, iguanas, you name it. They aren’t the only entity to be that broad.

    4) You can ask the person what is the animal trained to do. You can’t ask them what their disability is, but that does kind of answer the question.

    5) You can throw an animal out if they poop, pee, cause a disturbance.

    6) Yes people take advantage of this all the time and call their comfort animal or pet a service animal.



    I don’t hesitate to stop shopping at grocery stores or going to restaurants that allow pets in or look the other way, or worse yet, pet the animals. I make sure I let the management know why I will no longer be a customer.



    Fwiw, I asked an employee at TJs the other day about the issue of people bringing their pets into the store. She said that they’re not allowed to ask people if their dog is a service dog, but that if a customer complains, they will ask the dog owner if their dog is a service dog. So don’t just passive-aggress or resent your way out of shopping somewhere, ask management if they can do something! I know I will next time. Oh, and one more thing, while I agree that people shouldn’t bring dogs in willy-nilly, I do think that a well behaved support dog should be okay as long as mental health care in this country is such a low priority when it comes to insurance coverage. Many people whose mental health issues are treatable can’t afford treatment and therefore need those support animals. Someone mentioned that to me recently and I thought it was worth consideration. That being said, a big nope on poorly behaved animals and animals in carts.



    I have never had a conversation with anyone who had their dog in a store and my thought has always been that its more likely that they don’t want to leave their dog outside rather than all these people are going around thinking they have some sort of service dog. In my mind they know its wrong but they love their dog and are out on a walk and needed something. Who would mind their precious pooch? I don’t like it. And I don’t like those people who walk around in stores with a bird on their shoulder! ??
    And the dog in the basket of the cart ? Its probably not any worse than the baby with a diaper. It just creeps me out that someone thinks their dog belongs there. Its a dog not a baby!! As a previous dog owner with a very poorly behaved dog, my one piece of advise to anyone who is interested, to have a dog who is ok staying at home, you need to start practicing when they are a puppy. They need to learn its ok when you leave without them. If you wait until they are older you will be screwed. So as hard as it is to leave that cute little puppy at home when you go to the store, you will be so happy for all the years to come. And yes, putting them in a crate so they don’t wreck your house is not traumatic for anyone but you. As I understand it, dogs like the security when they are young.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by aa.
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