Should pets be allowed in grocery stores? Consumers divided

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some people say they don't mind having dogs in grocery stores, while others call it a sanitary issue.

A local woman called the ABC7 I-Team and said her neighborhood grocery store at 370 N. Desplaines St. has become open season for pets and she wants to see a change.

The woman said she has no problem with service animals and said they should be allowed everywhere in the city. But she said all dogs are welcome at her local Jewel-Osco and said it's gotten out of control.

Shopper Kimberly Kirinzic said she sees dogs in the store, "all the time. I see them walking around. I also see them sometimes in the shopping carts."

Jewel-Osco tells the ABC7 I-Team that the grocery chain, "posts signage at our locations that state service dogs are allowed but pets are not allowed in stores."

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Hundreds of viewers have commented on the issue of allowing pets inside grocery stores.

But despite the signs, a few customers ABC7 spoke with say the Jewel is known for welcoming all dogs. One person referred to it as the "pet friendly" Jewel and while some are completely OK with it, other shoppers tell us they don't like it.

"I'm a pet lover," Kirinzic said. "I absolutely love dogs. I just feel it's unsanitary, especially around the produce section."

"As long as I get to pet them and have fun with them, the cute ones at least, I don't really mind," said shopper Daryn Schwartz.

"I don't have a problem with the smaller dogs, but if they're too big, sniffing at the food or licking the food, then I have an issue," said shopper Jill Stack.

"I like dogs too. I have two of them myself, but I don't think they should be in a store by food," said shopper Craig Casey.

An employee at the Jewel told ABC7 that they see roughly 20-30 dogs inside the store a day and thinks only a few of them are service animals.

But Jewel told the I-Team its policy is, "compliant with federal, state and local laws concerning service animals versus pets."

In the city of Chicago, businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, theaters and health clubs.

"Service animals shouldn't be an issue but all dogs, I don't think so," Casey said.

The Chicago Department of Public Health told the I-Team that shoppers are not allowed to bring non-service dogs into grocery stores and businesses are allowed to ask if the pet is a service animal.

Meanwhile, customers seem to be split on the issue. Some say they don't like the idea of non-service animals in the stores

Another shopper says, "I think they should go get their bell pepper somewhere else then. Dogs should be everywhere as long as they're behaving. Why wouldn't you let them in they should be everywhere?"

According to the city of Chicago, people who have service animals cannot be charged extra fees, they can't be isolated from other customers and they cannot be treated less favorably than others.
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