What state officials call a growing conflict over service animals in grocery stores
is prompting them to take a stab at defusing the conflict.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture this week announced the start of an "education campaign
" that apparently will include a dog-shaped poster for all retail food establishments with information defining a service animal and giving tips to consumers upset about seeing Fido or Fluffy sniffing — or doing much worse — in the fresh fruit section. Also planned is a pamphlet for food retailers that tells them what they can ask whenever a customer comes into the store with an animal.
The messages go something like this
a) To those bringing in the animals
: Claiming an animal provides comfort or emotional stability does not meet the definition of a service animal, says Vance Bybee, administrator of the Ag Department's food safety division. "Just wanting to have a pet with you at all times does not meet the definition," Bybee says.
b) To retailers
: Asking the nature of a person's disability is verboten. But don't be afraid of asking (the human, not the animal) what service the animal has been trained to do that the person can't do for themselves.
c) To the general public entering grocery stores without animals
: Don't gripe to the animal's owner. Go to the store management. And if you don't like their answer, shop somewhere else or file a complaint
with the Ag Department.
Meanwhile, if you really want to get angry ...