Canine Companions in Public Spaces: A Debate on Dogs in Stores and Restaurants
The Dog-Friendly Town: Brookline and Its Canine Citizens
On a sunlit day in the dog-friendly community of Brookline, local resident Kristen Ricky, accompanied by her furry companion Stella, contemplates some window shopping. “She’s been in a few [stores]. The Booksmith, TJ Maxx down the street,” shares Kristen.
In Boston, a city known for its canine inclusivity, dogs are welcomed at outdoor restaurant patios and beer gardens, though they’re not allowed inside. This trend is echoed across other municipalities, but is this legal?
Navigating the Legal Landscape: State Policies and Dogs in Businesses
Our search for clarity led us to state legislation. Currently, the only stipulation in place is the protection of service animals. The decision to permit dogs in establishments other than restaurants falls within the jurisdiction of municipalities and individual businesses.
Boston’s policy distinctly permits only service dogs inside establishments, excluding emotional support animals and pets. The rule isn’t entirely black and white, with service dogs not mandated to be licensed or wear a vest, thus making them hard to identify.
The Gray Area: Identifying Service Dogs and Establishing Rules
The policy indicates that employees must trust a person’s claim about the necessity of an animal due to a disability and its trained tasks. This ambiguity means that, if a business is indifferent, one might sneak their pet inside. But is it appropriate?
Respecting Boundaries: A Veterinary Behaviorist Weighs In
“It’s important for dog owners taking dogs to public places that we respect other people’s boundaries as well. Not everybody wants to be near dogs,” advises Dr. Stephanie Borns-Weil, a veterinary behaviorist and assistant clinical professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.
Dr. Borns-Weil highlights the need to observe our pets for signs of discomfort in public settings. Relaxed dogs showcase neutral ears, a soft face, and a loose posture, while stressed dogs may display crinkled brows, tight faces, and a hunched body posture.
Understanding Your Dog: Reading the Signs
Dogs are acutely tuned to their environment, often picking up scents unnoticed by humans. “They’re going to be much, much, more in tune to scent than we are. They’re going to be picking up on the olfactory environment that we don’t notice,” says Dr. Borns-Weil.
For non-dog enthusiasts who encounter dogs in public spaces, Dr. Borns-Weil advises giving the animal a wide berth. She further reassures, “I’m less worried about being near a dog than I am about shaking hands with a random person about transferring contagion.”
Final Thoughts: Navigating Public Spaces with Dogs
To sum up, understanding local and business rules regarding dogs in public places is crucial. Beyond that, being considerate and respectful of other people’s comfort levels, just like Stella, is the golden rule to follow.
This article is based on a news report from CBS Boston