‘To appreciate food and life is to appreciate animals, too’ doggie dining grows in America

America isn’t France, but increasingly dogs are allowed to join folks for a public meal.

Sharon Peters writes in today’s The USA Today that across America, an ever-growing number of eating establishments, many of them high-end, are opening their patios to diners who want to share their eating-out experience with their pets.

Art Smith, owner/chef of the chic Art and Soul restaurant on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C, which draws scores of Washingtonians to its canine-welcoming patio every week, says,

"To appreciate food and life is to appreciate animals, too.”

In canine-crazy Carmel, Calif., many restaurants have pup-friendly patios, including Bahama Billy’s Island Steakhouse, where the 16 patio tables are often jam-packed with patrons with pooches.

There are never any outbursts of canine bad behavior, says co-owner Sylvia Sharp. The dogs "seem to view (the patio) as neutral territory, kind of like Switzerland."

At trendy downtown eatery Nosh in Colorado Springs, the massive patio — in the shadow of Pike’s Peak — becomes a veritable playground for dogs and owners every summer Sunday. Plastic kiddie pools are filled with water, tables are arranged to maximize romp-around room, and off-leash dogs frolic dog-park style, sniffing up each other (and the humans), sampling treats from the bags of doggie goodies presented free to each diner accompanied by a dog, and coaxing each other into splash-fests.

If you yak on your cat, what’s the best way to clean it and avoid norovirus transmission?

Amy has covered what to do if a student pukes in class; Ben and Mayra have made up a groovy infosheet on cleaning procedures.

But what if you yak on your cat or dog?

Specifically, as Scott Weese asks at the Worms & Germs Blog, when he should be enjoying turkey in Guelph, how do you disinfect a cat?

Weese explains how a colleague’s wife once had norovirus and spewed on the family cat, and says, dogs and cats cannot become infected with norovirus. However, they could act as a source of infection is their coat was contaminated.

Weese figures a bath is the best way to go (not the oven, right) and that anyone bathing a heavily contaminated animal should wear a mask and gloves, change their clothes after, clean any contaminated surfaces with bleach or another disinfectant and wash their hands.

He also concludes that the easiest way to handle this is to avoid vomiting on pets.

Pets and Service Dogs in grocery stores; the line must be drawn

I am constantly annoyed with pet owners that take their little dogs to the store, especially the grocery store. Oregon is too.  The state Department of Agriculture started a public awareness campaign last month reminding Oregonians that it’s illegal for dogs to enter grocery stores – unless it’s a service dog. Stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Home Depot aren’t good places to be bringing your pet, but there can be legal consequences in stores and restaurants that serve food.

There have been some arguments made for and against patrons bringing pets to stores. Some say their personal pets are like “children” to them, as if they are another family member, but bringing pets into stores is not a good idea for public safety in a microbiological sense and also a physical sense. I hate tripping over toddlers at Walmart, and I don’t want to add tripping on leashes or small dogs to this problem.

By law, grocery stores must allow service dogs into grocery stores.  According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, business owners may ask if an animal is for service, yet they cannot require a customer to show certification or other proof that an animal is certified. In fact, legitimate service animals aren’t always certified. (For more information on the law, call 1-800-514-0301.) A quick search on Google brought up Service Animal IDs for $30, no verification paperwork needed. This ID doesn’t classify the animal as a service animal, but most people aren’t able to tell the difference between the real thing and phonies. IDs such as this one could allow anyone to bring a pet into a store selling food, and most likely store managers wouldn’t do a thing about it.

Separating the true service dogs from the personal pets makes it hard for those that rely on their service animals for help with a disability.  The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

Most people think of service dogs as performing functions such as leading the blind and opening doors, but they are also psychiatric service dogs that help people with psychological problems. Unfortunately there is where the lines become very grey. Assistance Dogs International has three categories: guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired, hearing dogs for the deaf and hard of hearing and service dogs for people with disabilities other than those related to vision or hearing. Service dogs may be needed by people with disabilities that are not visible and perform activities such as alerting of oncoming seizures or a variety of psychiatric disabilities. While grocery store owners are allowed to ask if an animal is a service animal or pet, they are not allowed to ask what their disability is (if not visible).

This issue spins round and round. Untrained animals shouldn’t be brought into areas of food. But disabled people need service animals present to help with disabilities. But pets may not be able to be distinguished from service animals, and patrons may abuse the fact that the store owner can’t ask what their disability is. But the store owner has a right to exclude pets from areas with food for sale.

The long and the short of it is, there isn’t a federal regulatory agency that dictates how these animals are certified as service dogs. Even if we did have the regulatory agency, would that ensure resolution of all the service animal disputes? Of course not, just as the existence of the FDA and USDA doesn’t ensure the 100% safety of our food supply.


Bicycle and dog-friendly drive-through

Sadie (right) is an energetic dog. We found her as a 10-week-old pup, hiding underneath our vehicle, shortly after Amy and I moved into our Kansas compound in downtown Manhattan.

It happens, with the transient population of military and students, dogs, unfortunately, are abandoned routinely.

We followed procedure, ran ‘dog-found’ ads in the local paper, but no one claimed her. So we took her in.

I had a couple of Australian Shepherd-type-mutts back in Guelph (below, left), so was prepared for the, uh, high energy of Sadie. Which means she learned to run beside my bicycle. Quickly.

Sadie and I will sometimes bike to the grocery store in the morning and stock up for dinner, sometimes we’ll just bike, although we’re both moving a little slower 3 years later.

But the best is when we go to the bank.

Kansas State Bank has drive-through banking. My Canadian daughters still marvel at this when they visit. I still get paper cheques for this and that, so every couple of weeks, Sadie and I will bike to the drive-through bank. I’ll make a deposit using the pneumonic tubes, and the teller will send back a treat for Sadie, along with a deposit slip.

Oregon seems to be just figuring this out.

A couple of weeks ago, the state announced plans to crackdown on doggies in grocery stores. The N.Y. Times reported this as news this morning.

But the Los Angeles Times got it right. Kate Linthicum reported this morning that when Sarah Gilbert, a cyclist in Portland, Oregon, tried to order four cheeseburgers for her family at a Burgerville drive-through, she was denied.

Gilbert, a freelance blogger with thousands of online followers, went home and Twittered huffily about the experience ("burgerville on 26th/ powell turned me on my bike away from drivethrough. and not nicely at all."), and penned an open letter to Burgerville calling for more bike-friendly policies.

Many chain restaurants across America do not serve bicyclists at their drive-throughs, said Jeff Mapes, a Portland journalist who has written a book about bike culture. "In a lot of cities it doesn’t make much of a splash at all," he said. "But here, it’s a cause celebre."

Jonathan Maus, who publishes a blog called bikeportland.org said, "They expect a business to treat them the same whether they come in a car or on a bike."

Advocates have successfully persuaded many local businesses to include bicycle parking, he said. Persuading banks, pharmacies, fast-food chains and other businesses with drive-throughs to serve bicyclists is the next step.

Which is why Gilbert’s complaints struck a nerve. There was talk of a boycott. The story was picked up by local news outlets. Finally, Burgerville yielded. The chain apologized to Gilbert (it said it had no formal policy dictating how — or where — bicyclists could be served) and announced that it would henceforth welcome cyclists at all of its 39 drive-through locations in Oregon and Washington.

Sadie would approve.

Did Maple Leaf’s listeria hot dogs sicken a dog?

It’s one thing to sicken and kill humans with food like Maple Leaf cold cuts – just don’t mess with people’s pets.

Carrie Pich of Windsor, Ontario, (right, photo from Windsor Star) is convinced her beloved Tigger — a two-year-old yellow Labrador retriever —  fell ill over the weekend because he ate Maple Leaf hotdogs that might be tainted with bacteria.

"This could have been a human. I mean, (Tigger) is human to us. But it could’ve happened to you. My husband could’ve ate two. He loves hotdogs."

Pich said she bought three packages of hotdogs last week: two packs of Maple Leaf Original Wieners and one pack of Shopsy’s Deli-Fresh.

Both products are among those listed in the recall.

But Pich didn’t know that on the evening of July 31, when she cut up three Maple Leaf Original Wieners to put in Tigger’s supper, and gave him one more as a late-night treat.

On Saturday morning, Pich woke to find Tigger vomiting blood.

Dr. Ameer Ebrahim, the owner and veterinarian at Cabana @ Howard Pet Hospital said he can’t confirm that Tigger suffered from listeriosis, but the dog’s symptoms were "very consistent" with bacterial infection, and he wouldn’t rule out a connection with the recalled wieners eaten by Tigger.

"That’s a very strong coincidence.”

Wienermobile enters home, wasn’t invited

Although it’s National Hot Dog month, it’s been a lousy couple of weeks for Oscar Mayer.

On July 7, 2009, Oscar G. Mayer, retired chairman of the Wisconsin-based meat processing company that bears his name, died at the age of 95.

He was the third Oscar Mayer in the family that founded Oscar Mayer Foods, which was once the largest private employer in Madison. His grandfather, Oscar F. Mayer, died in 1955 and his father, Oscar G. Mayer Sr., died in 1965.

Mayer retired as chairman of the board in 1977 at age 62 soon after the company recorded its first $1 billion year. The company was later sold to General Foods and is now a business unit of Kraft.

Besides the actual hot dogs, Oscar Mayer is well-known for its Wienermobile. Amy saw it once on the back roads of Missouri. My kids had the plastic replicas (thanks, John).

Yesterday, Wienermobile was turning around in a Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, driveway, about 35 miles south of Milwaukee. The driver thought her wiener was in reverse but it was in drive. No one was home and no one was injured. No citations were immediately issued.

Doggie dining update: seems to work in Sarasota

Amy and I have developed a habit of going to the Sarasoto/Venice Beach area on Florida’s Gulf coast.

Especially in August.

It’s just too hot in Kansas.

We won’t be taking the dogs this year but we probably will in the future.

According to this update in the Herald Tribune, Florida authorized local governments to create doggie dining in 2006, and Sarasota and Manatee counties enacted ordinances in 2007.

Since then, the concept has taken off in Sarasota, where no major problems have been reported.

Sarasota has 14 eateries that have obtained a license to allow dogs to join their humans while eating at outdoor restaurant dining areas.

Some established restaurants, like Mattison’s City Grille in Sarasota, have set aside entire sections specifically for diners with dogs. …

Rules require hand sanitizer to be available for patrons, and restaurant staff are prohibited from touching the pets while working. Any "accidents" must be promptly cleaned up.

This seems entirely sensible, as long as the rules are followed and yahoos kept to a minimum

And I can’t decide whether it’s doggie dining or doggy dining.

KATIE FILLION: Peanut paste potentially poisons pooch

An elderly dog in Atlanta, Georgia has passed on following consumption of Austin-brand peanut butter crackers recalled during the current Salmonella outbreak.

The outbreak, linked to Peanut Corp. of America’s peanut paste and related products, is responsible for at least seven (human) deaths, nearly 500 illnesses (over 100 of which have been hospitalized), and reported illness in pets.

Atlanta Dogs Examiner reports the dog, Ozzie, ate Austin brand peanut butter crackers a few days before their recall was announced.

Like some other pet owners, Bert Kanist of Atlanta gave his dogs human food as treats, and his dog Ozzie loved peanut butter crackers. He ate two packages of them, became ill the next day, and succumbed to the illness within 24 hours.

Now Mr. Kanist reports that he’s getting the run-around from both government agencies and from Kellogg’s, the owner of Austin brands. Because his dog’s body was cremated, a necropsy can’t be performed, but testing for the presence of salmonella is being done on peanut butter crackers from the same case as the one the suspect crackers were from.

Dog treats are included in the recall, and a full list of recalled products is available on the FDA website at: http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/Salmonellatyph.html.

Is Salmonella-laced peanut stuff making dogs barf?

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned on Saturday that Americans should "postpone" eating cookies, crackers, candy and ice cream that contain peanut butter or peanut paste, they didn’t mention anything about America’s pets.

They should have.

Yesterday, PetSmart Inc, the largest U.S. pet-products and services retailer, recalled seven of its Grreat Choice Dog Biscuit products as a precaution against possible salmonella contamination because the peanut paste was produced by the Peanut Corp of America (PCA).

I told Georgia’s Gainesville Times this morning that the latest outbreak shows that food companies need to look closer at the operations of their suppliers.

"It’s where you get your food from. Whether you get it from around the corner or around the globe, you’ve got to know your suppliers. And it seems they supplied to a lot."

As of Jan. 20, 2009, 485 people were sick with Salmonella Typhimurium in 43 states.

Dog treats continue to sicken in U.S., Australia

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to caution consumers of a potential association between the development of illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky products also described as chicken tenders, strips or treats. 

FDA continues to receive complaints of dogs experiencing illness that their owners or veterinarians associate with consumption of chicken jerky products. The chicken jerky products are imported to the U.S. from China.  FDA issued a cautionary warning to consumers in September 2007.

Australian news organizations report the University of Sydney is also investigating an association between illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky in Australia. At least one firm in Australia has recalled their chicken jerky product and the recall notification stated the chicken jerky product was manufactured in China.

FDA believes the continued trend of consumer complaints coupled with the information obtained from Australia warrants an additional reminder and animal health notification.

Chicken jerky products should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to be used occasionally and in small quantities.  Owners of small dogs must be especially careful to limit the amount of these products. … FDA has conducted extensive chemical and microbial testing but has not identified any contaminant.