OPINION: Allowing dogs in restaurants puts owners whims above everything else

Brett McGarry
Arts Reporter

As reflected in a recent Arts & Life article in the National Post, Ontarians seem to think it perfectly acceptable to allow their pet dogs into restaurants. Many more “forward thinking” places like New York, Paris, British Columbia and Japan allow patrons’ furry friends to sit by their side as they enjoy lunch. Some of these restaurants have even gone as far as including dog specific menu items so their dog won’t feel left out.

As the law in Ontario stands now, dogs are not permitted to enter a restaurant or the patio of any place that serves food, with the exception of service animals.

And I’m supposed to feel bad?

Don’t get me wrong, I am a dog lover.

I’ve had two dogs over nearly two decades and a perfect Sunday morning for me includes a coffee and browsing the popular dog-photo group on Facebook called Dogspotting. Sometimes I’ll even go stag to dog parks for a good time. But allowing pups to join us by our side so emotionally distressed “dog-parents” can be comforted while they have their avocado sandwiches and frape lattes over brunch hardly seems to be the most responsible thing to do.

There is a myriad of issues that would arise if a dog-ban was lifted in our bars and restaurants. A lot of them involve food industry workers and serving staff.

Serving during the hustle and bustle at peak hours in a popular restaurant is stressful enough as it is. Adding an 85-pound golden retriever sprawled out in the middle of an aisle between tables while an overworked and underpaid employee tries to balance three plates of soup and spaghetti unnecessarily adds a layer of difficulty. And, honestly, dangerous to both the server and the pooch.

Then there’s the sanitation issues. Surely a restaurant on the up-and-up will keep their workers’ hands and dishes clean, but the fur of a shedding dog floating through the air could easily find its way to the top of a freshly made dish with the other accoutrements.

This all goes without mentioning that it’s in a canine’s nature to mark new territory with scent.

That’s right, dog urine.

So, it’s not unbelievable to think that a few dogs out of a dozen might not have the conditioning and control to not urinate on the booth of patrons sitting behind you. In regards to dog behaviour, every dog owner might like to think their special little buddy is the most well behaved in the world but the reality is that there is plenty of jumping, barking and food stealing doggies out there in the world. On average, if dogs were allowed in restaurants the vast majority would probably be finely behaved, but it only takes one jump from a drooling Cane Corso to ruins someone’s day.

And what about people with pet allergies? If pets were allowed into restaurants without discretion, roughly 10 per cent of people would now suddenly are no longer able to eat and drink and enjoy each other’s company in public. Allergic industry workers would have to suffer an eight hour shift of swollen eyes, a runny nose and poor breathing. Is it fair that now they will have to look for a new job for the comfort of entitled pet owners?

Almost none of this has to do with the safety, comfort or dignity of the pet itself but entirely has to do with pet owners who think everyone should treat their beloved animal like another human. It would not be outrageous if an entrepreneur wanted to open a dog friendly café, but to allow dogs in any restaurant is a reckless abandonment of a civilized society.

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