Do you think Fashion Island has gone to the dogs?
The upscale mall seems to have laid out the welcome mat for dogs because, on any given day, the critters pop up so often that some shoppers refer to it as "Orange County's Dog Mall."
Fashion Island’s outdoor design coupled with a dog-friendly policy that encompasses all outdoor public areas has, no doubt, drawn local dog owners and those who otherwise wouldn’t visit the mall. The water bowls and treats that some stores offer are the icing on the cake, and the large patch of grass near the Neiman Marcus Bloomingdale’s Courtyard is an extra bonus to the mall's four-legged friends.
On a recent Sunday, I counted 48 dogs in less than 20 minutes roaming around Fashion Island. All of the barking, growling and socializing made it feel a little like a dog park.
Shoppers seemed to have mixed emotions.
Anthony and Aileen Perez, first-time visitors from Huntington Beach, say they love to shop at Fashion Island with their dog, Hope, because of the dog-friendly restaurants.
But Douglas and Connie Anderson don't agree.
“I’m not crazy about it. It’s too hard to shop especially when they’re inside the stores,” Connie Anderson said.
Douglas Anderson has his own qualms. “I think the people that bring dogs here, come to show off,” he said.
It’s obvious the dogs at Fashion Island are accustomed to going everywhere with their owners, especially with their designer pet strollers in tow. Holly McCabe said she likes bringing Sophie, her English lab, to the mall because she likes being around people.
But local resident Diana Ensley has a problem with the poop the pups leave behind.
“I am upset when I have to walk around a pile of poop that hasn’t been cleaned up," Ensley said. "It’s bad enough pushing a wheelchair and now I have to worry about running over dog messes!”
A Macy’s employee, who declined to give her name, said she receives complaints about dogs all the time.
Fashion Island management did not respond to inquiries about its dog policy and complaints, or lack thereof.
So what do you think? Are four legged shoppers a bane or a bonus at Fashion Island?