Monday, 10th September 2018 marks the day that JD Wetherspoon closes their doors to dogs indefinitely. As an advocate of dog friendliness in Britain this saddens me, but I can understand why a national chain like Wetherspoons would take this action, after all they have a hard enough time keeping some of their human customers under control, let alone the dogs!
Jokes aside, it does raise the question of why Wetherspoons have decided to take this action. The official statement on their website is:
“We do not permit dogs in our pubs, hotels or in external areas which belong to us or are managed by us. This includes beer gardens and outside pavement areas.
We realise that this may seem quite strict, but our pubs are busy, with families and children present, and we serve a lot of food. Even well-trained dogs can sometimes behave unpredictably.
We do allow registered assistance dogs. In these circumstances, and to avoid any confusion or unnecessary upset, please ensure that your dog is wearing its recognisable leash/collar or harness. It would also be helpful if you could bring along suitable documentation to explain your dog’s purpose.” - https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/contact/faqs/our-pubs
The sad truth is that Wetherspoons are not the first to implement and enforce a dog ban. There are many reasons why venues decide to exclude dogs, for example the tourist village of Portmeirion in Wales has this statement on their website:
“One primary reason for the rule is the conflict pets (particularly dogs) produce in natural areas used as wildlife habitat and also used by people for recreation. Portmeirion natural areas are managed in a way that protects habitat for a wide variety of wildlife species. Dogs, by nature, can damage sensitive habitats as well as harass or kill vulnerable wildlife. The no-dogs policy is also applied to protect the many people who may be picnicking, walking, swimming or relaxing in the grounds. A dogs-on-leash rule used in the past proved ineffective because many people disregard the policy. We have also found that a few pet owners do not take the responsibility to pick up pet waste. Patrolling park grounds to assure that dogs are under control, contacting those who are not being responsible with their pet and cleaning up after pets to assure a safe visitor environment was an inefficient use of limited staff time.” - https://portmeirion.wales/frequently-asked-questions
I believe that as dog owners we have a social responsibility to ensure that our dogs are well-behaved and that we set a good example.
Wherever we go, we always do our best to keep Elsa calm, quiet and stick to any 'house rules'. She is always kept on a lead and under control inside any premises and we always clear up any mess that she makes.
We completely respect that not everyone wants to be around dogs and at the end of the day it's a privilege to be able to take her into any venue, not a right. At the same time, I also think that people have just as much of a right to be able to go somewhere where they can avoid dogs if they want to (and now they can go to Wetherspoons)!
By law it's down to the proprietor of the establishment to decide whether or not dogs are welcome and being a national chain, it's easier to have a standard blanket policy. I personally think that Wetherspoons have alienated a segment of their market at a very risky time for two reasons:
- Dog owners normally consider their dogs to be part of their ‘family’; if their dog isn’t welcome, they will just go somewhere else!
- Many people seem to be shifting away from corporate chains in favour of supporting local, independent businesses and these establishments usually welcome dogs with open arms.
In conclusion, my opinion is that while JD Wetherspoons continues to enforce their dog ban, we should support our local, independent dog friendly businesses and set a good example with our dogs.
Let's work together to keep Britain dog friendly!
Have you been affected by dog ban at Wetherspoons (or any other venues)?
We'd love to hear your opinions in the comments below!