The new pet policy allows owners to bring their dogs (on non-retractable leashes no longer than six feet or in pet carriers) to shopping center common areas, restaurant patios, and dog-friendly stores. While owners are asked to take their dogs outside for potty breaks, dog waste disposal/bag stations are positioned throughout common areas to make it easy for owners to clean up after their dogs immediately.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), more than 23 million American households — nearly one in five nationwide — adopted a pet during the pandemic. “This incredibly stressful period motivated many people to foster and adopt animals, as well as further cherish the pets already in their lives, and our recent research shows no significant risk of animals being rehomed by their owners now or in the near future as a result of the lifting of pandemic-related restrictions,” said ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker in a press release. “Pets are still providing their families with joy and comfort, regardless of changes in circumstances, and loving owners continue to recognize and appreciate the essential role pets play in their lives.”
At a time when doggy day cares across the country report months-long waiting lists, dog-friendly policies at malls allow visitors to get their shopping done while giving their pets some much-needed exercise at the same time. “Our customers are loving the ability to bring their dogs to the mall,” says Marvin Snyder, Senior General Manager at Short Pump Town Center in Virginia. “We’ve received good feedback from our customers and tenants about our dog-friendly policy. We’ve also seen an increase in traffic and sales since the pet policy went into effect last year.”
Matthew Seebeck, Senior General Manager at The SoNo Collection in Connecticut, has noticed a similar trend. “We have a high volume of dog owners in this area,” he says. “Allowing dogs inside our mall really drives traffic to the shopping center, especially on Sundays in the summer when we host doggie meet and greets. We equip the dog park with some jumping elements, set up a coffee bar for the owners, and serve “puppuccinos” to the dogs. Guests love it — it gives them a chance to socialize and get a little shopping done afterwards.”
We’ve received good feedback from our customers and tenants about our dog-friendly policy. We’ve also seen an increase in traffic and sales since the pet policy went into effect last year.”
MarvinSnyder,Senior GM Short Pump Town Center
Since their respective dog-friendly policies went into effect, both Snyder and Seebeck say they’ve seen less incidents related to dogs being left alone in cars in mall parking lots. “There’s always a big issue with leaving your pet in your car when it’s extremely hot or cold outside,” Seebeck says. “Luckily, our shoppers don’t need to worry about that anymore.”
While dogs occasionally have accidents when indoors, pet relief areas conveniently located just outside the shopping center doors greatly reduce the risk. “We find people who are willing to bring their dog to the shopping center are 99 percent of the time good canine citizens and good citizens as well,” Seebeck adds. “We want to be accommodating to our community members. It ties into our purpose of creating spaces for communities to thrive.”
So, it’s fitting that at Short Pump Town Center’s recent holiday event, it was a dog who stole the show at the parade, wagging its tail from a Mercedes-Benz. “The dog was provided by the local ASPCA and rode in the car with the Snow Queen and Princess,” Snyder recalls. “When the parade reached its destination at the Christmas tree in our main plaza, the MC for the event highlighted the dog and its availability for adoption. It was the perfect ending to a family-friendly holiday event.”
Areas off limits for dogs at participating Brookfield Properties shopping centers include the food court, water fountains, escalators, and stores that prohibit them. Dogs should display any required tags and be up to date on shots. Dogs displaying aggressive or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated and the owner will be asked the leave the premises with their dog.
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