This time I am going to tackle a subject that is going to get me in trouble. No matter which side you’re on, I have found that people are very passionate about their dogs. I will just say this right up front, we do not allow pets in our markets. Now before you call me hateful names, tell me how I hate animals, and tell me how YOUR dog is cleaner than most people, hear me out.
First and foremost, it is against county codes here for animals to be in the market. I know some of you don’t believe me when I say that but it is absolutely true. If you really want to look it up, it is Washoe County Code 55.100, Section 3. And since most people don’t believe me when I tell them that, I have printed it on my No Pets signs that I post in the market. So now that we are past the whole “it’s illegal” thing, let’s get into the subjective parts of the discussion.
Number one: I must hate animals. This is one that gets thrown in my face all the time. The fact is, I love animals. I have had pets almost my whole life and it’s because of this that I am happy to enforce the law at my markets. Oh, did I mention that it is actually a county code? It is because I love animals that I would never take one to a market, festival, concert, grocery store, etc. You know where I do take them? Out for a walk, to a pet friendly park, hunting, etc. Yup, I’m the asshole who hates animals.
Number two: “My dog is cleaner than people.” Another quote that I get a lot. I actually had someone tell me this while his dog was cleaning its hind end, if you get what I’m saying. Another thing about your “clean” dog is that they tend to go to potty whenever they have to or whenever they feel the need to mark some territory. It’s not the animals’ fault. It’s a dog, that’s what they do. However, that is one of the big reasons they are not allowed in the markets. I will never blame an animal for this but I will always fault the owner of that animal when it happens. And I can tell you, that the owner of a dog that does its business where it shouldn’t is ALWAYS the one who complains the most when I try to tell them that animals aren’t allowed in the market.
These next stories have actually happened at my markets so you are getting this first hand and not from something someone’s cousins’ brother told me.
I had a lady who brought a Great Dane into the market and was walking down the middle of a row of vendors. I saw them and was walking toward them to inform them of the rules and point out one of the myriad of No Pets signs that she walked past, when the horse, I mean gigantic dog squated and took a massive steaming dump, of Augean proportions, right in the middle of the market. The owner actually had no intentions of cleaning up after her animal and was starting to walk away when I got to her. I nicely started to tell her that animals are not allowed in the market but before it was out of my mouth, she launched into a tirade about how I was an asshole for telling her that her beloved friend and companion was not welcome in the market. That “Scooby” (Names have been changed to protect the innocent) is family and that I am discriminating against him. It was at this point that I just pointed at the massive pile in the middle of my market and asked her if she was going to clean it up. You would have thought I asked her to pick up nuclear waste with her bare hands. “NO, OF COURSE NOT” she said, then followed up with “There are people for that” and she walked away.
Another thoughtful pet owner brought their tiny dog into the market smuggled in their purse because they had already been asked numerous times over the course of the season not to bring their dog with them to the markets. Now I’m sure that little Snookie just loves being stuffed into a leather purse when it’s over ninety degrees outside just so that its owner can have her dog with her because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be. Anyway, this woman, goes into a booth that is selling baked goods and picks out a few things. I just happened to be walking by and recognized her so I paused to see if the dog was with her. It was then she remembered that her money was in her purse with Snookie, so she pulls this poor animal out of the leather sauna and places him on the table of baked good so that she can get to her cash. Snookie, being a dog, immediately puts his nose into a tray of frosted cinnamon rolls. Now most vendors are polite to the customers, even when the customers are not behaving properly or are rude so it was not out of line for this vendor to ask the offending woman if she was going to pay for the tray of baked goods that her dog just ruined. The woman did apologize for Snookie’s longing for the treats but, instead of paying for them, she packed up the tiny furball and hustled away.
One of my favorites was the time a guy came strolling into the market with his furry buddy, on a leash made of rope by the way, and when I stopped him and explained the rule, he simply said “Well why don’t I just kick your ass?” I had not been rude to him and had actually tried to be overly nice because I was in a good mood that day but that pushed my buttons a little. So I explained to him, in a calm voice, that after I finished beating him senseless that I would have him arrested and his animal taken to the pound. It’s probably a good thing that he decided to leave the area.
Ok, last true story for now. I saw a woman in one of my vendors’ booths and noticed the leashed companion with her so I headed her way to tell her about the rules but before I could get there, Fido really needed to go and, seeing a beautiful display of hand made baskets and gifts, figured that it would be the perfect place. As I got closer, Fido lifted his leg and proceeded to drench the whole display. The vendor, visibly upset, confronted the woman and asked if she was going to pay for the ruined products. Now if my dog had ruined someones property, I would immediately offer compensation. This lady was one of those people who are, for lack of a better word, ”Entitled” and saw no reason that she should have to pay for the damage her pet had done. Fortunately, I arrived before the vendor could tear into her and asked her to leave the market. As we spoke and I explained the rules and the local law and that she had just cost the vendor money because of her actions, she became upset with me that I would treat her this way. I again tried to explain that the vendor had lost money, her income that she feeds her family with, she actually said to me “It was just some stupid baskets”. I gave up trying to explain it to her because I could tell that no matter what I said, she just was not going to get what she had done to a person trying to make a living.
So let’s get to some of the nuts and bolts of what people are doing to their animals when they bring them to events like farmers’ markets especially when it’s hot outside.
IT’S HOT!!! When the temperature creeps over 90, the surface of the asphalt that most of our markets are held on gets to be well over 100 and sometimes upward to 180 degrees. I have seen more dogs dancing on hot asphalt than I care to tell you about. Generally, if a pet owner gives me a hard time on days like that, I tell them that they can keep their dogs with them if they will take their shoes and socks off and walk barefoot with them. I have yet to have someone agree to that. Almost all of them just look at me and say “Are you kidding? It’s freaking hot.”
“But my dog likes to be at the market.” To that I say BULLSHIT! Your dog would be happy in a park, at a lake, in your air conditioned house, camping in a forest, chasing bunnies, playing with your kids, etc., but I am here to tell you that your dog is NOT happy in a farmers’ market. It’s loud and crowded and full of people that can step on them and confuse them. They can get frustrated and upset and all it takes is one dog bite to shut us down and have your family companion euthanized.
Just because you like dogs doesn’t mean everyone does. There are a lot of people who are afraid of dogs, allergic to dogs, or just plain don’t like them. So is it fair to all of them that you can bring your dog and make all of them uncomfortable, afraid, or cause them to be ill just because you think that Fifi is having a great time at an event designed around people?
Now I don’t want you to think I only kick dogs out of the markets. I have had people bring snakes, cats, birds, ferrets, rats, and more. I had one guy actually bring a cat with him in a big cage. I really don’t know what he was thinking when he left the house but that one was interesting. I have seen people put their pets in carriers, backpacks, purses, and strollers. One lady had a big beautiful cockatiel on her head which I thought was interesting until she turned and I saw that she was covered in bird shit from the top of her head all the way down her back. What really baffled me about this, when I thought about it later, is that she thinks it is perfectly acceptable to walk around covered in shit. Nope, no issues there.
So there you have it. Let the abuse begin. Tell me how I’m wrong. I live for that. Soon, I am going to discuss “Service Animals”. Then the hate can really fly my way.