The Boulder County Farmers' Market will ban dogs and other animals from both the Boulder and Longmont markets over health and safety concerns.
The ban will begin June 2.
Shanan Olson, the market's interim executive director, said the decision was made out of health concerns as well as the safety of the pets and humans.
"We want to protect the food and keep pets in safer places than our market is able to provide," she said. "We watched trends in other markets and consulted with the Humane Society and other pet resources and really think this is the best decision to make."
In September 2011, the Boulder County Farmers' Market's former executive director, Bob D'Alessandro, wrote a commentary piece in the Daily Camera asking people to reconsider bringing their dogs to the market.
While Olsen said she has seen everything from rats to snakes at the market, she acknowledged the policy will affect dog owners the most. She said the market is delaying the ban until June to make sure owners are aware of the new policy and have time to adjust.
"We don't want to send people away from the market because of pets," she said. "Our hope is by the time June rolls around, it won't feel as abrupt or invasive."
Jeni Nagle, of Ela Family Farms, said she agrees with the ban.
"I've gone back and forth for years, but I think it's a good policy mainly for safety reasons," she said. "There are little kids with food in their hands and their parents are shopping and talking. Food, children and dogs ... you just don't want to see anyone get hurt."
Nagle, who has been going to the Boulder market for about six years and also started going to Longmont this year, said she normally sees about three dog scuffles every time.
"I don't think the dogs enjoy it as much as people think they do," she said. "I think it's stressful for the dogs and stressful for the people."
Allison Edwards, of Sol Y Sombra Farm, said she has been to other farmers markets that ban animals and that they run much more smoothly.
"The dogs get a little intimidated in the crowds," she said. "There seem to be a lot of aggressive dogs, and it freaks me out when small children are around them."
Vendors have never been allowed to bring animals to the market. Edwards said while she thinks it may affect how long shoppers stay at the market, she thinks it won't change the number of people who come out.
"I have a dog, but I wouldn't ever take her to a market," she said. "She would rather be on a trail than in a crowd of people not watching where they are going."
Initial reaction from farmers market shoppers on the Daily Camera's Facebook page was varied.
"I'm so glad to hear this," posted Rebecca Sosvielle. "Dogs prevent easy movement in an already crowded area and are a nuisance. I always thought it was kind of distasteful that dogs were allowed."
Maggie Brown posted: "I am deeply saddened by the fact that dogs are now banned from the Boulder Market. I thought Boulder was a dog friendly place? First Pearl Street, now the Farmer's Market?"
But Olsen said ultimately people don't go to the farmers market for the animals.
"They are there for the food," she said. "And the handling of food is best done without our furry friends."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or email@example.com.