No dogs allowed: Hillside pulls welcome mat for pets

Victoria’s Hillside shopping centre, known as a dog-friendly mall, is closing its doors to canines.

As of March 1, dogs will be prohibited in the shopping centre.

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The change comes as a result of complaints from customers that some dog owners were bringing their animals to the food court, where they weren’t allowed, and neglecting to pick up after their pets, according to a statement by Kerry Shular, the mall’s general manager.

“Despite our best efforts to accommodate guests with dogs in our shopping centre, our teams were unable to attend to what was becoming a growing instance of disregarded animal waste throughout the interior of our property, and the presence of pets in food service areas,” Shular said in an emailed statement.

The mall’s dog policy requires owners to have their pets on leash, keep them off mall furniture, and clean up after them if they have an accident inside. Dogs are not allowed in the food court.

Bruce Nguyen brings his two-year-old Maltese, Chewie, to the mall at least three times a week, and more often in the winter when the weather is unpleasant.

When it rains, they’ll often take their walks in the mall.

“It’s a great place, because we do a bit of shopping and a bit of socializing with other people and other animals,” Nguyen said. “So, that’s kind of sad if they take it away.”

Nguyen said the policy change will mean less shopping at Hillside for him.

Tabarek Al-Musawi, who moved to Victoria from Lebanon about a year ago, said she doesn’t mind the policy change, because she’s a little afraid of dogs.

Where she’s from, most dogs are strays and unpredictable, said Al-Musawi, who works at the Canadian Tire at Hillside.

Canadian Tire said Hillside’s policy change will not affect the store, and dogs will still be allowed inside.

Shular thanked the dog owners who followed the shopping centre’s policies and said they regret the impact the change will have on them.

The mall will continue to allow service animals with appropriate designation.

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