Have you defined your pet policy?
The Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar chain just opened a new location in Fresno, California and includes a menu for friendly dogs as long as they follow the “three b’s”, which means no barking, no begging or biting. And in South Beach, the Cat Café recently opened where you can have coffee and hang out with feline friends, with the main goal of the cafe being to find homes for the animals. If you search Yelp or Google for pet-friendly restaurants in just about any city, you will find many options these days from breakfast spots to breweries!
According to a 2017-2018 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, 68% (about 85 million families) of US households own a pet.
Trends are proving a growing love for pets in the US. Take Halloween for example, an estimated $480 million was spent this year on pet costumes. Also, have you noticed more moves towards the humanification of pet food? Subscription services, clean labels, transparency, alternative proteins….sound familiar? Pet owners are more and more feeding their animals the way they would approach their own food.
Even though we love our pets in the US, does that mean they should go out to lunch or dinner with us?
There are an estimated 387,000 service animals in the US, not just providing assistance to the blind or deaf, but also support for other conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, and emotional disorders. However there is no official registry for service animals, so 19 states are enacting laws to crack down on “fake” service animals that are not trained properly to be in pleas of business.
As a restaurant or a retailer, policies concerning pets, should be carefully designed to reflect the clientele, but also protect. While the risks range from other animals getting hurt, customers getting hurt, or just hygiene issues, even business owners that love their own pets should consider the issues that could arise.
As in the case of the Lazy Dog Restaurant and Cat Cafe, it’s pretty clear these are pet-focused establishments that make it clear to customers that don’t want to dine with animals that this might not be the place for them. But in many cases, someone could be quite surprised to be enjoying a meal and see a dog a few feet away.
If your business is going to welcome pets, check out how James’ Beach in Venice Beach, CA handles pets. They’ve developed their own “doggie etiquette” rules, and any customer that shows up with a dog is given a printed copy. The rules include dogs only on patio, but not after dark, no dogs on furniture, no feeding dogs in restaurants, no dogs at the bar, and a few more rules including “manager’s discretion” on whether or not the dog is allowed.
UPDATE: According to PawAdvisor, pet ownership has reached 70% or 90.5 million families in April 2022.