Downtown stores placing out dog bowls in effort to become more pet-friendly

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Downtown Salisbury has become even more pet-friendly over the past month thanks to Theresa Pitner, owner of dog training service Understanding Your Dog.

Starting in May, Pitner went around to all of the stores downtown and started making a list of which ones allowed dogs inside. What she found during her list-taking was that almost every business downtown is dog-friendly.

“It is amazing how many shops allow dogs in them. I would go into these stores and ask if they allowed dogs, and all of them would say ‘of course we do, you didn’t know that,'” said Pitner.

The only stores that told her no were the ones that were forced to deny dogs due to health reasons, according to Pitner, places such as the restaurants, tattoo parlors and beauty parlors.

What Pitner was working on was adding outdoor dog bowls to every downtown storefront that would take one. She passed out the water bowls to all of the businesses who said they allowed dogs, in total handing out 35.

“Dogs bring people with them. If downtown is dog-friendly, that’s more people and customers that will go to those stores,” said Pitner.

Pitner thought of the idea because she used to have a downtown location for her dog training business on East Council Street. While there, Pitner would have clients take their pets on walks through the area in order to help them socialize with other people and dogs.

“I noticed that a lot of bigger cities had stuff like this. So while I was having people walk their dogs through the town, I was thinking about how nice it would be if I could take some of my clients through the stores and not just socialize their dogs, but also introduce them to our businesses,” said Pitner.

While Pitner may have moved her business out of the East Council Street Location, her effect on downtown’s pet-friendliness remains. A month after she began her project, all 35 businesses still fill up the water bowls and leave them on the sidewalk on hot summer days for passing dogs to stop for a drink.