Symposium 2016: Are people who choose to have pets rather than children discriminated against? With the perception that pets are now part of a family, should laws be changed to prevent businesses from discriminating against people who have pets?

Myrtle Beach, SC Correspondent- As a proud dog-Mom I would say yes! Now, let me clarify, I KNOW my dog is NOT a child nor do I treat him like one. However, he’s expensive! I keep him up to date on shots, feed him, take him to the vet for ear infections, buy him toys and treats, new beds, $22 a night when we leave town, the list goes on. Also, he was adopted from our local Humane Society a Non-profit. I think we are discriminated against for the sheer fact we can’t deduct a portion of their care. But, that’s not really what this question is about.

I would LOVE to take Bam Bam with me to dinner, to Wal-Mart to the store etc. I wish I could. Stores I don’t think we can do much about, but restaurants maybe we can find an alternative. I think that businesses who so choose (and more should) should provide alternative seating to those who wish to dine with their k-9 “babies”. I’ll be honest, if there was a place I could go and take him with me I’d be eating there a few nights a week! I think it would be advantageous for businesses. However, then we run into the problem of DHEC and such so I think laws would have to change to allow this. Maybe, the servers in the “dog rooms” puck up the food from a separate area nowhere near the kitchen? I don’t know how to fix that, But I’m all for it!

So are we discriminated against? I’m not sure you call is discrimination since laws prevent it, but I think it’s definitely time we open up places to allow people with pets. And let’s be honest here, I’d rather eat at a table next to a dog who’s just laying at their owners feet; than eat with a screaming child at the next table.


Gastonia, NC Correspondent- Pets are not children, no matter how much your Aunt Bertha dotes on her Maine coon cats.  This fetishizing of pets as children is nauseating, and I have no patience for it.  I have always been a pet owner, and I’ve always loved my various critters, but I’ve never once thought of them as my children.  In my opinions, people who do so have something a little off in their wiring.  A messy toddler in a restaurant is far less a threat to public health and safety than an overly friendly St. Bernard ambling among the tables helping himself to bites from unattended plates.  I fully support the idea of things like pet-friendly patios and other areas in restaurants, but if you start trying to bring your pet turkey to my screening of the latest Star Wars flick and I miss some dialogue because Mr. Gobbles decides to raise a ruckus, he’s going to find himself in my oven.

Owatonna, MN Correspondent- As much as some people think of their pets as part of the family, animals are not humans and should not be treated like humans. This is especially true in public places. Requiring businesses to not discriminate against people who have pets is a good example of Big Government overstepping its bounds.

The primary reason to treat animals differently is safety. Dogs especially can become agitated for a number of reasons and attack other pets or humans. Lawsuits for damages resulting from injury could cost a business to the point of forcing it into bankruptcy. Dogs or cats could attack other animals in a business setting as well. No one can predict how an animal will react around another animal. Forcing a company to allow this interaction is also a recipe for expensive disaster for the business owner if one pet were to injure or kill another pet.

Customer health is also an issue. Many people are allergic to dogs and/or cats. Allowing anyone with a pet to bring it into a business where others are present could cause serious health problems for some people. No one should be forced by law to be put into a situation that unduly puts their health at risk.

That said, service animals should be allowed since they are highly trained to not cause any problems. They merely give their owners equal rights with people who don’t need service animals. But any accommodation of pets other than service animals by business owners should be voluntary. That way, an animal-friendly business can cultivate pet-owning customers, and businesses that don’t want any pet issues in their stores are free to ban all pets and cater to clients who don’t want to deal with animals while they shop.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- People that choose to have pets rather than children can be discriminated against, and sometimes are, but it usually occurs because a number of people who do  have dogs rather than children tend to treat their dog or dogs like small children and are spoiling them beyond what is natural.  People are turned off by dog coddling and repelled by the inaction of dog owners and their dog’s unpleasant behaviors.

Dog lovers take their pets with them everywhere, from food stores, to restaurants, to office buildings, to malls and beyond. They overindulge and pamper their dogs ad nauseam.  Their dogs are allowed to do   just about anything,  such as eating under or next to restaurant tables,  damaging parks, knocking down or jumping on runners, walkers, children and others; turning over trash cans, strewing garbage and food scraps, running wild through private areas, tearing down clothing from clotheslines, climbing up on seating areas next to people reading or eating, nipping at peoples heels and legs, slobbering all over people’s hands and faces and doing all kinds of other unmentionable obnoxious actions that should be only for the owner’s view and  their backyard.

The problems aren’t necessarily attributed to dogs but to the thoughtless and selfish dog owners who are unaware and unresponsive to what their dog or dogs are doing.  They bring discrimination upon themselves and their dogs  by not training or providing proper training for their dogs, like someone would  do for  an out of control child (maybe).  A large number of dog owners are irresponsible and simply let their dogs have free rein of any area and have few qualms and little to no remorse over the behavior of their animal.

Laws should be changed to give businesses and others the ability to restrict dogs from areas where they don’t belong so they are unable to indulge in inappropriate behaviors in public and private places. Fines, mandatory training programs, and leash laws should be put in place for dogs that destroy property, are nuisances and endanger others.  Many apartment buildings, condominium complexes, rental homes, trailer parks and motels require deposits for dogs and other animals to cover any damages that may occur to flooring, carpeting, cabinetry, doors and other living spaces.

Of course there should be laws to protect animals from cruelty in all forms, but discriminating against an untrained and obnoxious dog does not fall in that category. When a dog is out of control, laws need to be enforced and if that is discrimination, selfish and clueless dog owners better get used to it.

It’s too bad when man’s best friend morphs into man’s worst canine, but man only has himself to blame for taking a dog and turning it into an incorrigible and petulant companion,  with no clue about discipline and training.  As the phrase goes for those weary of spoiled brat dogs, “No, I don’t want to pet your dog.”

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