When it comes to attending the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market, it appears to be “two legs good, four legs bad.”
Although the Downtown Lodi Business Partnership — the nonprofit organization that hosts the market — is not outright banning guests from attending with their dogs in tow, they are urging people to leave the animals at home.
“This is not the DLBP or city of Lodi’s doing,” said Jaime Watts, executive director of the DLBP. “This is the state health department.”
State heath codes mandate that live animals cannot come within 20 feet of where food is sold. However, leashed dogs are a common sight navigating the crowds of people at the weekly markets during the summer. Even though people can legally bring animals to the market if they stay outside the required distance, Watts said asking people to not bring animals altogether is the best preventative measure.
“There is a lot of stimulus at the markets for the dogs,” Watts said. “We just want to make sure there isn’t an incident.”
Watts has coordinated the markets since 2006 and said she hasn’t received complaints of people being bitten by dogs or other related incidents in that time. Those who bring animals are also courteous about cleaning up after them, she added. There will be signs posted throughout the market urging people to consider showing up animal-free, Watts said. Vendors will also be issued flyers to hand out to passersby with dogs.
The method will be one that’s positive, Watts said.
“The easiest solution is to ask people to leave pets at home as a courtesy to others,” she said. “It’s our job to encourage people to be responsible.”
This issue is hardly uncharted waters. Many certified farmers markets around the country, including Davis’, have strict “no pets” policies.
Jon Tecklenburg, who heads the produce section at the market, said he and former DLBP executive director Lew Van Buskirk looked to impose a no-dogs rule in the early 2000s but received backlash from one passionate dog owner. The woman was so insistent the law allowed her to bring her dog, Tecklenburg said, the effort was ditched.
“Legally they can bring their dogs if they stay away from the produce,” Tecklenburg said. “I agree with (Watts), but I’ve been through it before.”
Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at firstname.lastname@example.org.