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Farmers market finds itself in the doghouse

County cracks down after finding more than a dozen dogs during an inspection

September 15, 2011|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Montrose Harvest Market is being scrutinized for allowing dogs in their open market. (File photo)
Montrose Harvest Market is being scrutinized for allowing…

Organizers of the farmers market in Montrose — already in hot water regarding sponsorship rules — have been told by public health officials to ratchet up efforts to keep animals out.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a notice of violation to organizers of the Montrose Harvest Market last month after counting more than 12 dogs in the market, far above the number usually seen during a random inspection, said Scott Hunter, an environmental health specialist with the agency.

“It’s something we don’t see often,” he said. “Maybe we see one [during an inspection].”

The Montrose Shopping Park Assn., a business group that sponsors the market on Honolulu Avenue, posted signs warning visitors that no pets are allowed in the market after getting the notice of violation at the end of August.

Animals, except for guide or service dogs, are not allowed within 20 feet of food, according to county health rules.

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“The health department comes through the market all the time. When they find something that’s a potential violation, we make sure we fix it,” said Dale Dawson, executive director of the shopping park association.

Organizers are also working to comply with state rules for certified farmers markets, which must be sponsored by a government entity, a nonprofit group or a grower. The Montrose event, which has operated in its current form since 2002, lacks that backing.

Organizers said they didn’t know they were breaking the rules.

There are two other weekly farmers markets in Glendale, neither of which have received animal violations in the past two years, Hunter said. It’s up to market organizers to be vigilant when animals come into markets, he added.

“We are doing our best to enforce it,” Dawson said.”Obviously, it’s difficult in Montrose because it’s a dog town.”

Seven years ago, Montrose residents fought to loosen those public health rules banning dogs from restaurants. They pushed the county to allow animals in outdoor seating areas that are not sectioned off by gates or ropes, Hunter said.

“People have been bringing their dogs down Honolulu Avenue for years,” Hunter said. “I can see how it’s progressed to how it is now.”

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