Not everyone is an animal lover, but those of us who are should take pride in our pets and set the best example we can by making sure we always follow posted signs regarding pet restrictions and respect the leash laws. These laws and restrictions are designed to help keep both pet owner and their pets safe, while providing an environment that everyone can enjoy.
Pets may be happy, friendly, loving creatures at home around family members and friends they are comfortable with, but this does not matter in public places where the environment may be too busy, confusing and unfamiliar to your pet. Animals like people enjoy places they feel safe and comfortable. Strange places, or places full of strangers may cause your pet to feel anxious or nervous, which can lead to uncharacteristic behavior. It is always best to avoid situations that stress your pet. Remember just because you feel comfortable somewhere, doesn't mean you pet feels the same way.
Leash laws are laws requiring that pet owners keep their pet on a leash while in public areas, including something as simple as taking a walk in their neighborhood or public park. These laws are designed to help keep public areas where pets are allowed, safe and orderly so that everyone in that area, both humans and animals, can enjoy activities without the threat of harm. Most pet owners are courteous and conscientious and keep their pets on a leash when away from home. However, some people feel like they know their pet so well that it is not always necessary. Just like humans, animals can quickly become irritated and/or scared and react in a certain situation in a way that is contrary and dangerous to their normal behavior. Leash laws vary from state-to-state, but nevertheless, they are required to be followed, no matter how well you think you know your pet. These laws are not negotiable and apply to "everyone". Even if you DO know your pet very well, you do not know how strangers will act around your pet, so keeping your pet safe from strangers is another good reason to adhere to these laws.
Everyone loves to go shopping, but in most cities and states animals are not allowed in public shopping areas, unless they are specially trained guide dogs for the visually impaired or assistance dogs for the handicapped. There are exceptions though, such as some specialized pet stores which do allow you to take your pet with you. Most places that do allow pets, will have it posted prominently near the entrance so it is easy to see. If you are not sure, ask someone who works there, before just taking the chance and bringing your pet inside. Again, this is not only to provide safety for others who may be shopping there, but also for your pet. Generally places that allow pets, have made sure that the environment within their place of business is safe.
If you are going to a restaurant or shopping for the day and the weather is extremely warm, make sure you have checked prior to leaving home, if the places you are visiting will allow pets. It could be dangerous to your pets health if it must stay in the car for extended periods during extreme temperatures. Remember, there is no excuse for pet abuse due to negligence or ignorance. Businesses will not budge on leash laws or feel sympathetic even when weather is a factor, so explaining that your pet could become overheated if left in the car, will have no effect. Your pet relies on you to keep it safe and healthy, no matter what activity you are enjoying.
Another thing to remember when trying to determine whether or not your pet is allowed in a particular public area, is not to assume it is "okay" simply because you see other people with pets. Always adhere to any posted restrictions, which will ALWAYS be posted on signs placed in prominent spots such as main entry points and public access areas. The beach is a good example of a place where you may see pets, but they are not always allowed. Some localities will issue fines to people who do not adhere to the posted restrictions.
It is important to remember too, that even though pets may be allowed in certain areas if on a leash, some places have very specific requirements regarding the size, length and strength of the leash being used. If you are unsure what the exact requirements are, you can contact your local community center or city hall for specifications regarding the local leash laws.
Pet restrictions in public places also includes taking care of the disposal of animal waste promptly and in the proper waste receptacle or container that you can take with you and dispose of at home. This is important to your health as well as your pet's. Animal waste is not only unpleasant but it can transmit diseases and contamination to others. We all like to enjoy our leisure time in a clean, healthy environment, so please remember to always keep public areas clean for those who will use it after you have gone.