Comments about Ray being allowed (or not) into stores, and other businesses, has come up a number of times during the “life” of this Blog. Here in Oakville, I guess we are fortunate in that our bank, all the pet supplies stores, Lululemon, Ten Thousand Villages and one or two other places will allow Ray inside. Restaurants and cafes are sacred ground due to Provincial legislation which limits access to “Service dogs” only.
We have been advised that Ray is not allowed on the outdoor patio at Tim Horton’s due to “health issues”, and even our local library will not allow him into their lobby… unless he is a Service dog, and that is where I have a problem.
I can accept a potential “health issue” with allowing dogs into an area where food is exposed (allowing humans in also produces health issues!). Many dogs could well carry “undesirables” in their coat; a flick of a tail from a large dog could touch a food item on a table, and dogs can cough and sneeze! I would support the concept of banning dogs from all food serving areas, if public health was the issue, but it should be all dogs. Service dogs can wag their tails, cough and sneeze, and therefore could be just as much of a health risk as a “regular” dog. Allowing Service Dogs into a food serving area, but prohibiting regular dogs from the same area would appear to be simple discrimination as the “health issue” does not stand up to scrutiny.
If we accept that the “health issue” is not the reason (based on my logic, it cannot be), then my thought is simply that Service dogs are generally very well behaved, while many “regular” dogs fall a little short in that area. I can accept that rationale, but then must fall back onto the blatant discrimination. Because Service dogs are well behaved, does not dictate that all “regular” dogs are not. This is, to me, no different from banning teenagers from a store because a few may be disruptive. It makes no sense!
My thoughts are that if any business is prepared to ask disruptive customers to leave the premises, then the same thinking should apply to pet owners. The logic is really simple, if dogs as a species are acceptable in a business, then all dogs should be allowed in. If a particular dog is causing an issue, then the owner should be requested to take it off the premises.
A person with a Service dog probably has no options but to take their dog everywhere with them. Who would want to defend a discrimination law suit resulting from not allowing people with mental and/or physical challenges from entering their business? Service dog owners do need that freedom, just as wheel chair operators need ramps, and I can totally understand that, but then… don’t tell me that Ray is not allowed in for reasons of “health issues”!
Whatever the background is to the restaurant/cafe legislation, or behind other businesses choosing to prohibit “regular” dogs, it would seem to have nothing to do with health and everything to do with a selective discrimination. I am certainly not against people with Service dogs being allowed into businesses, but let’s not discriminate against well behaved “regular” dogs!