Market dog ban slow to catch on

Not everyone is obeying the new ban on dogs at the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters market.

Though four-legged friends were officially banned from Ashland's farmers markets Aug. 1, a few residents continue to trudge along with their canine companions.

Mary Ann, who declined to give her last name, brought her dog, a Jack Russell, to the Saturday Market on the corner of Lithia Way and First Street this weekend. She said she comes to the market often, but was unaware she could no longer bring her pet.

"He needed an outing," Mary Ann said. She thinks dogs should be allowed at the market, so long as their owners keep them under control. "I think as long as you bring a leash and keep it close to you, it's alright. It depends on the dog and the owner."

The nine-member Market board of directors voted 8-1 last month on a ban, citing hygienic and safety concerns. Similar bans have been put into affect at growers markets in Medford and Grants Pass. A few market patrons said they understood the board's reasoning.

"People might get mad if a dog pooped in their food," said Janelle Schuler, 8, of Ashland.

The sentiment on Saturday was mixed, with some visitors in support of the ban and an equal number against it. A woman named Adele brought her black lab to the market. Also unaware of the ban, she did not see much concern over a few dogs walking among the aisles of produce.

"I think they should be able to come," she said, declining to give her last name for fear of punishment. "The only problem I could see is if they ate the food."

The lone exception to the ban is service dogs, those who aid owners with disabilities or blindness. None of the dogs at the downtown market qualified as service dogs.

Heidi Filson came to the market with her son, Lars. She said she understands the logic of keeping them out, and does not mind leaving her pet at home.

"We stopped bringing our dog a long time ago," Heidi said. "I wish we could, but there are concerns that need to be addressed."

Her 11-year-old son, Lars, offered a different opinion.

"I think you should be able to bring your dog," he said. "It's great to bring your dog places with you. They're like your best friend, so of course you want to take them somewhere."

It was a similar scene at Ashland's other market location, near the armory and ScienceWorks museum on Ashland Street and Walker Ave. Many shoppers there were aware of the ban, while a few others, with dogs in tow, appeared to have missed the memo.

The markets sell fresh produce from local vendors Tuesday and Saturday through the fall.

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