Pet Prohibition
By Craig Rexford

Sometimes common sense must prevail. An article in The New York Times in early September discusses how a division of the Oregon state government is distributing posters and pamphlets to about 4,500 retail stores that sell food, telling them that animals, except those trained to help the disabled, are not allowed in their stores.

The problem is, that in parts of Oregon at least, people took the liberal nature of the region a bit too far. It seems that many felt that it was okay to bring their dogs, and sometimes even their cats, into their favorite supermarket or other food store. The problem arose, according to the article, when a dog or two decided to do “its business” in an aisle, grab for a piece of meat that was intended for a shopping basket or take a nap in the middle of an aisle.

Complaints increased, and the government wisely decided that things were starting to get out of hand–hence the message to retailers to curb visitation rights for animals in food stores.

Of course, Oregon being Oregon, some people are complaining that they have to leave the pooch at home while they go grocery shopping. They say there has to be a constitutional amendment that prevents the state government from tramping on the rights of dogs and their owners in Oregon.

As far as I know, there is no such law–federal or otherwise–but that’s beside the point. While I work on a pet magazine and love animals as much as anyone, the bottom line is that consumers need to understand that there has to be limits to what we can do with our pets. Bringing the pooch into a food store or a restaurant is potentially unsanitary and, at a minimum, uncomfortable for some consumers.

Oregon is doing the right thing stopping this type of behavior. At the same time, it is important to remember that we cannot let things go so far that government regulations actually do impede the rights of animals and their owners. Those who do not like animals could see this as the first step in creating a pet-free world.

We cannot let that happen either. Consumers, retailers and other operators, and most importantly government officials need to use common sense to determine the right regulations that protect the public-and their pets.