In 2001, Mitch Frakenberg and his wife tried embarking on a vacation with their dog and sought out pet friendly businesses, but instead were met with frustration and frazzled nerves. Instead of being deterred by this experience, however, they decided to take a leap of faith, and create The Paw House Inn, which they describe as “a travel destination that is mindfully designed to the needs of dog lovers.”
Located in beautiful Killington, Vermont, The Paw House Inn has been a welcome addition to this dog friendly state. “We left our jobs in New York City, packed up our two goofy labs, disregarded everyone’s warnings, and created a dream come true- a special ‘dog centric’ Vermont getaway with all of the comforts of home, including your dog,” Mitch tells MiLLENNiAL.
And, judging from America’s love affair with their pets, many will say The Paw House Inn is a dream come true for those pet parents formerly faced with the dilemma of leaving their cherished pets behind when traveling. But the tide is turning. Today, more and more businesses are welcoming and embracing their customer’s pets!
From Mom and Pop stores, mid- level companies, to big box and elite, upscale enterprises—many are taking note that their customers want to bring Fido along, whether it’s for a quick errand or a long vacation. A growing number of companies, from Google, Etsy, and Amazon allow their employees to bring their dogs to work, some even going so far as to create dog parks and providing doggie treats at the reception desk. Moreover, studies have shown that having animals in the workplace can make workers more productive, while lowering stress levels.
Millennials want their pets with them
Gabriella Rosen, 25, is ecstatic that businesses are taking heed of the wants of pet owners and animal lovers. “I don’t have a lot of down time, and leaving my dog behind and hearing the wimpers and cries just breaks my heart. So, if I am able to bring my pet along with me while running errands, shopping, playing, grabbing a bite to eat at an outdoor café, and more—this is very important to me,” says Rosen. “I want to spend time with my dog, she is a big part of my life.”
Pet ownership in the USA has tripled since the 1970s and today 68% of households own a pet. Millennials are notorious for catering to the needs of their pets, and this includes seeking out pet friendly businesses. With such numbers, businesses that ignore their needs do so at a peril. Customer loyalty goes particularly far when retail shops and restaurants allow pets.
Stores such as Nordstroms, Barney’s, Saks 5th Avenue, PetSmart and the Gap are just a few of the stores that welcome dogs. While a shopping mall’s policy may differ from individual stores, the word is out to management that Millennials consider their pets as part of the family, and are willing to support any business that welcomes their dog, even if it means paying more or traveling farther.
Legislation for Pet Friendly Businesses
Judie Mancuso, Founder and President of Social Compassion in Legislation, an organization that sponsors and supports legislation that promotes the care, rights and protection of animals, is pleased with the growing trend of animals in the workplace, but realizes there is more to do. “I collaborate with other animal welfare groups to form coalitions for greater strength behind the various campaigns we are working on,” she informs MiLLENNiAL.
Like many other pet owners, Judie was often confused about the nebulous laws surrounding pets in restaurants and hotels. “I adopted two rescued Chihuahuas in 2012 and took them to a few restaurants where they could sit outside with me,” she remembers. “I went to the same chain restaurant as we did before, but in a different location. Once we got situated, and ordered, a server came out and said we could not sit there with our dogs and asked us to leave. The manager came out and said it ‘was state law,” and I said to him as I was getting ready to leave, hungry and disappointed, well that’s a law that needs to be changed.”
Sure enough, Judie started researching and discovered that only service animals were allowed in restaurants, indoor or outdoor. While some eateries were enforcing the laws, many were not. “It was obvious that the time had come and we needed to change this antiquated law, and make it legal to do what some restaurants were already doing, and what their customers clearly wanted,” she says.
As a result, Mancuso helped draft a bill, Dining with Dogs, which recently passed both the Assembly and State Senate in New York City. “This bill mimics the California law,” she says. “It allows restaurants that have outdoor areas to open them up to their patron’s dogs if they so choose to. It does not mandate it; it makes it legal if the restaurant wants to.” Regarding public health standards, the law allows specific guidelines for restaurants to follow to ensure health and safety codes. Mancuso also points out this legislation will help prevent life threatening situations for dogs since owners will no longer need to tie them up where they can be injured or stolen, or left in a hot car.
Resources and Apps for Millennials’ Fury Family
Thinking of taking your pet a long on vacation? Take a look at Bringfido.com, a website which promotes pet friendly hotels, restaurants and events in the USA and Canada. Not surprisingly, online phenomenon has seen its listings grow from 10,000 to 100,000 in the past couple of years! To make it easier when traveling, there are some noteworthy pet apps to consider when vacationing with your pet. DogFriendly Mobile and BringFido, are two free apps that can point you to dog friendly hotels, dog parks and outdoor restaurants in the city you are staying.
But it appears that pet friendly hotels and outdoor restaurants are not the only places you can take your furry friend for some entertainment. In California, there are many breweries, wineries and even nightclubs that allow you to enjoy some entertainment with your dog at your feet. According to Dogsniffer.com, popular entertainment spots in L.A. include O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Restaurant and The Abbey. In San Francisco, bring your pet to the Bloodhound, Flanagan’s Pub or the 540 Club. Thinking about going to Napa? There are over 100 wineries that allow dogs, according to Dogtrekker.com.
As a group that is socially connected, technically savvy and committed to being an influential voice, Millennials are not hesitating to make a difference and changing the pet industry, as we know it. Their influence is powerful and pet friendly businesses are paying attention. As Judie Mancuso says, “We are a nation that loves our dogs and view them as family members. We want to protect them, eat with them, shop with them, and take them on vacations!”