Should Dogs Be Allowed in Stores and Restaurants?
The Pros and Cons of becoming a Dog Friendly Business
For many of us, dogs are family members. At home they may eat, relax, play, and sleep with us, but when we go out, we have to leave them behind. Some people are adamantly for the allowance of dogs wherever humans go, and others are steadfastly against it. As of January 1st of this year, California started allowing dogs to accompany owners in the outdoor seating areas of restaurants.
Is it a good move or a bad one? Here are some of the most debated pros and cons.
Reasons to Allow Dogs in Stores and at Restaurants
1. It is convenient.
Many owners take their canine companions with them everywhere they go. They may even take them to work. They cannot legally or responsibly leave their dog in the car when they need to grocery shop, dine out, or complete other errands, but it also does not make sense to have to take them somewhere before running out again.
2. Restaurants are still as hygienic as they were before.
According to the law, dogs are not allowed inside restaurants. They cannot enter food prep areas, and restaurant employees are not allowed to make contact with them. As long as everyone plays by the rules, sanitation is not an issue. Some might argue that some dogs could be cleaner than the humans in an establishment.
3. It improves the flow of revenue.
People are more willing to go places if they can take their dogs. They may also be more willing to make purchases if their dogs are with them. People may also be more willing to engage in activities they may have refrained from when their dogs were not allowed.
4. It is still a choice, not a requirement.
Even if the state has made it possible for businesses to open their doors up to canine traffic, it does not mean all of them will. Some may still choose to ban dogs from their indoor and outdoor areas.
5. People with disabilities have been doing it for years.
Under federal regulation, therapy and service dogs are allowed anywhere a human can go. Although it is very understandable why there are more allowances for individuals with disabilities, it does raise the question about whether non-disabled individuals should have the same ability to bring their dogs in certain limited areas.
Reasons Not to Allow Dogs in Stores and Restaurants
1. It is a liability issue.
The owner is strictly responsible for his dog’s actions. However, a business person is responsible for accidents that happen on the premises. Who will be held liable in cases where a dog injures someone? The legal ramifications of allowing dogs on site are potentially costly.
2. It may change the insurance game.
While insurance for dog-related accidents is not widely available as such, businesses may need to consider specialized insurance to cover potential lawsuits. Even if a business owner does not want to add additional insurance to a policy, an insurer may decide to increase premiums or cease commercial coverage because of the additional risk. Every business owner should talk with insurance providers before agreeing to allow dogs on site.
3. Business owners may need to update their rules.
To protect themselves from liability issues, business owners may need to post visible risk warnings to individuals who enter the establishment.
4. Some patrons may take their business elsewhere.
Regardless of the laws, some people will never support the allowance of dogs in stores or restaurants. Depending on a business’s clientele, they may lose a significant portion of their market. Businesses should consider whether their market is more or less dog friendly before agreeing to make any changes.