Can Lassie save the mall?
At Yorktown Center in Chicago’s western suburbs, 58 stores have a paw print sticker on their window indicating they’re “pet-friendly.” Every third Thursday each month, the mall hosts a two-hour Yappy Hour to encourage shoppers to bring their dog for activities, food samples, crafts and free ice cream. Outdoor seating at restaurants allow owners to dine with their dogs. Such amenities helped Yorktown Center rank first in BringFido.com’s “Coolest Dog-Friendly Mall.”
Yorktown Center promotes its “dog-friendly” status, but has numerous rules:
- Dogs need to be on leashes, supervised at all times and follow individual store policies;
- Dogs are not allowed to approach other shoppers or dogs unless invited;
- Owners must clean up after their dogs, and their pets aren’t allowed to cause a disturbance.
Yorktown Center writes on its website, “There are certain risks associated with allowing dogs to interact with other people, children and dogs. Owners are legally responsible for the behavior of their dogs. Please help keep Yorktown Center dog-friendly by showing responsible ownership and maintaining well-behaved pets!”
Other indoor and outdoor shopping centers on BringFido.com’s top ten list also offer a variety of costume contests, parades and other themed pet-friendly events. Three of them — Otay Ranch Town Center in Chula Vista, CA; Stony Point Fashion Park in Richmond, VA; and Lee Premium Outlets, Lee, MA — have dog parks. The Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey rents out complimentary dog strollers for dogs weighing 20 pounds or less.
In New York City, dogs are welcome in most non-food stores. Some proprietors put out water bowls and offer dog treats. Many states have also passed laws in recent years allowing dogs to join patrons on restaurant and bar patios.
Yorktown Center’s rules underscore the risks. Some of those infractions proved too much for Hillside Shopping Centre, which as of March 1 prohibits dogs. The mall, based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, heard too many complaints from shoppers that owners were bringing their dogs to the food court, where they weren’t allowed, and not picking up after their pets.
- America’s Coolest Pet-Friendly Malls – BringFido
- Dogs Dining on Patios Are Illegal Interlopers No More – Pew
- North Carolina’s Triangle Area: Booming for People and Their Pets! – The Courier
- No dogs allowed: Hillside pulls welcome mat for pets – Times Colonist
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Have the perceptions around dogs in retail settings changed to the point that most people now accept their presence? Should retailers welcome or prohibit dogs?