I was shopping at Gowanus Whole Foods this evening and saw a guy walking his dog on a leash through the food aisles. That's interesting, I thought. It's illegal for food stores to let dogs enter the premises.
The dangers are especially great at Whole Foods, because the business makes much of its money selling cooked food that's out in the open, for customers to scoop up and dump into boxes. Sure, people pick at the food with their dirty thumbs and forefingers. Happens often.
But allowing dogs into those and other areas, that's another level of disregard for public health. How do I know that store policy to allow dogs in?
As I was leaving I asked two young ladies at the cashier's station about it. "Dogs are in here all the time," one of them said. "There's nothing stopping them." The cashier and the other employee expressed surprise when I told them that in New York City dogs were not supposed to be in food stores. I told them it was "against the law." They laughed.
Here's the deal: This type of policy - of allowing dogs into a food store - would not have been allowed before the age of gentrification. In nearby Park Slope, even pharmacies let dogs in. Employees there say that their managers allow it. The New York Times recently had a piece about personal versus institutional racism. This is institutional, because it's a matter of huge outlets letting white customers stroll through with their animals, when it would never have allowed that when the communities were largely populated by people of color.
And city officials allow it to happen. I'll check this out, but I'm assuming that Whole Foods has an A grade from city inspectors.
More to come.