Malls Welcomed Dogs. The Results Have Been Ruff. | Kanebridge News
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Malls Welcomed Dogs. The Results Have Been Ruff.

Shopping centres adopt pet-friendly ‘pawlicies,’ and cope with puppy accidents and greyhounds running up and down the escalators

Fri, Dec 16, 2022 8:46amGrey Clock 3 min

NORWALK, Conn.—It was Weston Bear Marshall’s first time at the mall and he wasn’t up on his etiquette. Soon after arriving on Black Friday, the two-year-old lifted his leg and peed on an information sign.

“He’s marking his territory,” said Vincent Marshall, owner of the Old English sheepdog.

Malls are desperate to revive foot traffic after years of losing customers to e-commerce. That includes the four-footed kind, despite the occasional mishap.

“Not everyone makes it to the puppy-relief stations,” said Matthew Seebeck, senior general manager of the Norwalk, Conn., mall, called the SoNo Collection.

The mall’s doggie code of conduct, also known as the “pawlicy,” requires its furrier patrons to use the puppy facilities, which are equipped with patches of fake grass, plastic bags and paper towels. Owners who don’t follow the rules, which also require leashes, can be banned for up to a year. No one has been blacklisted yet, Mr. Seebeck said.

Weston’s human staff carried on with their shopping after his accident. The family posed for a photo with Santa and then lingered as shoppers came over to pet the 80-pound animal.

“If anyone’s nervous, he’ll win them over,” Mr. Marshall predicted. “He’s a very social dog. He’s thinking, ‘I want to introduce myself to all these people.’ That’s what is going through his doggie brain.”

Pacific Retail Capital Partners, which operates 22 malls in 12 states, has six pet-friendly centers and plans for a seventh next year, said Najla Kayyem, its executive vice president of marketing.

“People who have pets are a breed of their own and we want to be able to reach them,” she said.

The Eastridge Center in San Jose, Calif., has a Mini Cat Town, for playing with kittens up for adoption. At the Monroe Crossing Mall in Monroe, N.C., cats and bunnies on leashes scamper in for pet night with Santa, said marketing manager Wendi McCall. One shopper needed approval from Santa to bring a snake.

On Black Friday in 2021, two greyhounds busted loose from their owner at the SoNo Collection. “You could see the crowds of people parting as they ran up and down the escalator,” recalled Mr. Seebeck.

Another day at the same mall, a Great Dane took out a sweater display at the Altar’d State clothing chain. Earlier this year, a dog deposited a trail of poop outside H&M. Shoppers nearby barked at the owner to clean up after her pup, but she high-tailed it out, canine in tow.

The Rosedale Center in Roseville, Minn., for a time allowed dogs on Sunday mornings, but discontinued that. They overran the mall and left hair on garments, said Molly King, a manager there. “For every dog lover,” she added, “there is a dog not lover.”

Mike Lambrakis, of Tustin, Calif., lately has noticed more pooches while shopping. “I’ll be looking at clothing and suddenly there is a dog sniffing my leg,” said the 36-year-old financial adviser, who is allergic. “It makes it easier to justify shopping online.”

Ed Taylor, founder of the Worldwide Santa Claus Network said his members, who often play Kris Kringle at shopping centers, have been peed on, bitten and scratched. And he doesn’t mean by the children.

He has posed with goats, chickens, snakes and lizards at malls around the country, and a small lap dog once chomped on his finger. “He didn’t draw blood, but it was a shock,” said Mr. Taylor, who still enjoys seeing pets among shoppers.

The Foothills Mall in Maryville, Tenn., is pet friendly. Does it advertise that? Nope.

“If we did, then everyone would come with their animals and that would be more than we could handle,” said Tia Spires, the mall’s general manager.

Last month, Rod Morton, a 58-year-old advertising executive, was walking his goldendoodle Truly at the SoNo Collection mall in Connecticut. It was cold and rainy outside, with other challenges inside the mall.

The Nordstrom there offers complimentary puppuccinos, which are cups of whipped cream. Truly loves them—who wouldn’t?—but then races around on a sugar high, said Mr. Morton.

Another dog owner, Adam Bomberger, waited with his golden retriever Bailey outside of Aerie, where Mr. Bomberger’s girlfriend was shopping.

The store was too crowded for Bailey’s liking, according to Mr. Bomberger, a 34-year-old media technology specialist. He also has to steer Bailey away from stores that sell candles because the pup likes to lick the scented wax.

Nearby, Paisley and Bentley, both Pomeranians, were yapping and yipping like canine carolers. “They get excited,” explained Michael Lopez, a 22-year-old student at Sacred Heart University who was shopping with his girlfriend Valerie Navas, a 21-year-old nursing student.

Ms. Navas said the dogs tinkle on the rug almost every time they come to the mall. “They think the rug is a huge pee mat,” she said.


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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