Nanjing Night Net

Better watch out, better not care: Santa Claws is coming to town

AT CAFE BONES in Leichhardt, dog ”parents” are lining up to have their ”children’s” pictures taken with Santa.The cafe owner and mother-of-three tail-waggers, Chaka Khashayar, says it’s done with good humour and for a good cause – all profits going to animal charities – but it also meets a need, because dogs aren’t allowed to visit shopping-centre Santas.”There shouldn’t be any difference between taking dogs into Westfield than taking a child,” she said.The state Opposition recently responded to public indignation about dogs being turned away from outdoor areas of cafes with the promise of new legislation to overturn the ban. Politicians, from Richard Nixon to Malcolm Turnbull, have long been aware of the political appeal that comes from cosying up to a four-legged friend.The number of registered dogs in NSW has risen from 509,611 in June 2005 to 808,144 in June this year. But it’s not just the number of dogs- their social status is also changing. ”There has been an elevation in the social position of what I would call companion animals,” said the social demographer Bernard Salt. ”I wonder whether it’s a consequence of rising incidences of singledom or childlessness … If the human desire to heap love and affection on to a child is being redirected on to an animal.”Advocacy groups such as Dogs NSW and the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) are hoping the Opposition’s move on cafes will drive a greater liberalisation of other laws.Dogs are allowed on public transport in Britain and Italy. It’s not uncommon in Tokyo to see a fashionista board a subway carriage with a dog in her handbag, or to see a dog indoors in a Paris restaurant.In NSW, pets are banned from trains and only allowed on buses and ferries if staff are satisfied they are enclosed in an appropriate carry case. Only guide dogs are usually allowed in plane cabins. ”Sydney is becoming the dog-hater capital of the world,” said Peter Higgins, spokesman for Dogs NSW.Mark Lawrie, the president of the AVA, said there is no scientific reason to exclude pets from indoor areas, provided they aren’t places where food is being prepared. ”The risk of [disease or bacteria] coming from dogs or humans is comparable,” he said.Already there has been slow reform, particularly in the City of Sydney, in favour of dogs. In the past two years alone, the council has added 18 off-leash parks. The dog-collar-wearing Lord Mayor, Clover Mayor, has also campaigned against pet shops, and supports removing barriers to having pets on public transport, in strata apartments, cafes and rental properties.But not everyone in the inner-city is happy about their neighbourhood going to the dogs. A Darlinghurst resident, Narelle Taylor, said she saw a dog send coffees flying at a cafe when it pulled suddenly on its lead, which was tied to a table leg. A recent book, Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, claimed that a medium-sized dog had a carbon footprint twice that of a four-wheel-drive, due to the large quantity of meat it consumes every year.The Labor councillor Meredith Burgmann said the City of Sydney’s support for pet ownership was incongruous with its green image.
Nanjing Night Net