Today the state Senate passed a bill allowing dogs to enter certain retailers.
The bill would bar the state from making rules against dogs entering businesses that sell pre-packaged food. Pups would still be barred from businesses that sell cooked food.
Sen. Roger Roth, a Republican from Appleton, told lawmakers at a public hearing in July that the legislation was drafted with hunting dogs in mind. He said that hunters will often stop off at outfitters on their way to camp, when they’ve already got their doggos in tow.
“The opportunity for them, when they’re setting up for this, to be able to bring their dog into a Fleet Farm or other type of retailer when they’re picking out their gear would be an immense benefit,” he said.
Roth said that if the bill is passed, the final decision on whether to allow dogs on their premises would be up to business owners. The bill already passed the Assembly, with an amendment that extended the policy to cats. That proposal was dropped from the Senate version.
“I don’t understand the cat part of it to be totally honest with you,” Roth continued. “I don’t know anyone that hunts with cats.”
Fleet Farm – a hunting outfitter and rural supply store – is the lone group supporting the bill. In fact, they’re the only lobbying interest to file any position on the proposal. Fleet Farm sells pre-packaged food, which currently blocks them from allowing pets.
Frank Steeves, the Executive Vice President of Fleet Farm, told lawmakers in July that the bill will help fill veterinary gaps in rural communities.
“We are also prohibited from sponsoring store-animal welfare programs — such as serving as a host for pet adoptions and providing the desperately needed veterinary services that many rural areas lack,” Steeves said.
Matt Kussow lobbied for the bill on behalf of Fleet Farm, which he says receives hundreds of complaints from dog-owners who are blocked from bringing their pets into stores.
“It was the number one complaint they received from customers,” Kussow says. “Every week, they would receive calls and emails from people wondering why they couldn’t bring their dog into a store that predominantly serves an agricultural society.”
Since the Senate adopted a version of the bill different from the one approved in the Assembly, the amended proposal now heads back to the Assembly for another vote.
Photo: James Barker / Unsplash