Dog Cafes Are The Latest Trend In Los Angeles: Cool Or Cruel?

Dog Cafes Are The Latest Trend In Los Angeles: Cool Or Cruel?

Written By Amica Graber

Apr 8, 2016

Animal cafes are an unpleasant trend embraced by young hipsters. Ranging from cats to owls, coffee shops charge premium rates for customers who want to sip on their cold brew surrounded by creatures.

Coffee and fuzzy animals are both amazing. But is it exploitative to allow our furry friends to be constantly petted by a revolving door of strangers?

The first dog cafe has just opened in Silver Lake, Los Angeles — and we have to ask, cool or cruel?

What’s Good About It

Like some cat cafes, the purpose of Silver Lake’s dog cafe is to boost adoption rates. According to The Dog Cafe’s website, their mission is to “revolutionize dog adoption by reinventing the way people connect with rescues who need homes.”

The Dog Cafe takes animals from the shelter who have been there the longest, and are at risk of being euthanized, and introduces them to prospective owners over coffee.

The website adds, “the Dog Cafe offers a comfortable and fun space for humans and dogs to hang out with each other, away from overcrowded shelters, which can provoke fear and aggression in perfectly adoptable pups.”

Introducing dogs and prospective owners in a casual environment can be more beneficial than introducing the pair at a shelter. Shelters are high-stress environments, and often the pups are already stressed out when they’re introduced to new people.

Socialization with humans and other dogs is fundamentally important when trying to rehabilitate a dog with anxiety. So spending time in The Dog Cafe could help an anxious dog become a playful pup. But is a busy coffee shop truly the best environment for dogs that need homes?

What’s Bad About It?

Some dogs don’t want to be social. Older dogs from bad backgrounds may have adverse reactions to being overstimulated by a variety of strangers and other dogs in an enclosed environment. Should a dog become nervous, and nip at a visitor — there’s a strong possibility that dog would be put down.

By nature, dogs are social creatures. But it could be traumatizing for a homeless pup to be petted all day. Minors over the age of 5 are permitted in the dog cafe, if supervised by an adult. But there’s no guarantee that a curious kid won’t tug on the tail of a resident dog.

Although The Dog Cafe’s staff functions as chaperones for the dogs (and humans) on duty, long lines of eager customers inherently won’t provide the same controlled environment that a shelter can offer. Hourly visitors might work well for some dogs — for others, this could be a new source of stress.

The Verdict

If a dog hasn’t been adopted during his stay at the shelter, then an adoption drive at The Dog Cafe is a far better alternative than euthanasia. If The Dog Cafe can reunite homeless dogs and new owners, then it’s potentially worth it.

However, in other areas of the world, dog cafes are a thing — and there is nothing good about them. Dogs kept at international dog cafes are rarely exercised or fed. They’re not up for adoption, either. They exist as props for customers, which is a clear example of animal exploitation.

There are risks to LA’s Dog Cafe, but hopefully cafe is equipped with enough staff and resources to ensure that all of the dogs are well-treated, and there’s space for them to escape the constant crowds should they feel like it.

Have you been to The Dog Cafe? We’d love to hear about it. Let us know what you think in the comments.