Chris Rhoades and Elizabeth Elliott

Chris Rhoades and Elizabeth Elliott

Pets are an important part of many people's lives. More and more, some stores and even bars or restaurants are allowing pets inside during normal business hours. Sometimes it’s just certain days, other establishments seem to be OK with it all the time. Should this be allowed or should pets be required to stay at home? Associate Publisher Chris Rhoades and Assistant Editor Elizabeth Elliott debate.

Rhoades: Pets belong at home, not at the mall

Let me first preface this by saying that if someone needs a therapy pet, a dog, because they’re visually impaired, etc., I absolutely think they should be able to take those animals wherever they need to. However, unless there’s an absolute need to do so, pets should not be allowed in stores or restaurants for any reason (unless it’s a pet store).

There’s just so many reasons animals shouldn’t be allowed in retail stores that I’m surprised it’s ever allowed. First, it’s a legitimate safety concern. Dogs are great, but they can bite if they get scared or feel threatened. While it’s not common, there’s been plenty of instances where kids and even adults get injured by a dog leash getting wrapped around a body part if the pet takes off running unexpectedly. And maybe this is being overly conservative, but there’s plenty of people who are allergic to dogs or other pets. I personally don’t think they should be exposed to those things in public areas like a shopping mall or restaurant.

In addition to the safety concerns, having dogs in stores is a sanitary issue, isn’t it? I’m sure most pet owners think their pets are well-trained, but accidents can happen. Do you want to be looking at a brand new sweatshirt, only to find a clump of dog hair on it from a canine passerby? Please, no.

Pets, specifically dogs, are super fun and super cute. I can see the draw for people to want to have them along side them at all times. I can see some stores thinking that it’s a fun thing to offer to their customers. While all of those things may be true, the downsides far outweigh the positives when it comes to this argument. Have as many pets as you want at your house, just leave them at home when you head out to shop.

Elliott: Animals should be allowed in stores

Sometimes shopping can be stressful. You have a long list of things to buy and are mad at yourself for procrastinating the trip, when you turn your cart down the next aisle over and see the cutest dog riding shotgun in a baby stroller.

Your heart melts as you ask permission from the pet owner to greet the little dog. Your stress melts away after the dog returns the greeting. You feel ready to conquer the rest of your shopping list.

I find nothing wrong with bringing your pet into a store. You wouldn't leave your children in the car and for some, pets are their children.

It is especially true when the weather is hitting the extremes — bitterly cold or blazing hot.

How many reports do we see in the summer about not leaving your pet in the car due to the blazing temperatures? Animals, like people, can respond poorly to such extreme temperatures.

People don't seem to have as many allergies to dogs as cats. If you have a small dog that is well-behaved, it shouldn't be a problem to bring them into the stores.

Bringing pets inside also can be beneficial for the owners, especially if it keeps them calm. No one wants to go shopping or into public places when people are getting riled up. Pets are therapeutic. Some people truly need a pet with them to help keep them calm and focused outside of themselves. People with anxiety, especially social anxiety, can find solace. No one should feel so uncomfortable with being in the public.

Pets should be allowed in stores because we are a society that leads by example. When others see a pet that is not disruptive, it can help others see how their animals should behave. I don't want to hear barking when I go to the store, but I have never had an issue with a pet coming after me or making me uncomfortable in a store. Keep them contained and we can all have an enjoyable shopping experience.

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