Even here in California, where people tend to be more relaxed about most things — marijuana, purple hair, body piercings or the right to make yourself a complete asshole as you run Bay to Breakers in a purple thong — the question is whether dogs should be allowed in Restaurants can generate a heated debate like mid-August in Death Valley.
But if you’re one of those people who thinks it’s not a question at all, since there’s a federal law banning dogs in restaurants, think again.
There is no.
The Food and Drug Administration’s food law banning all service animals in retail establishments where food is served is only a recommendation, not a law. It is up to each state to choose whether to adopt these guidelines, and local health departments to choose whether or not to implement them.
In 2014, California added amendments to its retail food law to allow restaurant owners to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas, subject to certain restrictions including that dogs may not sit at the table in a chair. We are one of 17 states that have such laws that allow dogs.
While some object to animals even in patio dining areas, in general, people’s fears can be narrowed down to wanting to make sure a dog won’t make us sick, won’t bite us and generally won’t disturb our eating experience.
Health-wise, the majority of dogs pose little or no health risks to restaurant patrons, as most of us will not come into contact with a dog’s bodily fluids or waste. Restaurant workers are also required to wash their hands after petting a dog.
Other than health concerns, it is the responsibility of pet owners to ensure that their dog behaves appropriately in their outdoor eating areas.
First, don’t just assume that if a restaurant or café has a patio, that means they allow dogs. Always ask first.
Second, if your dog is agitated, untrained, aggressive, or unsocial, don’t take him anywhere in public. a period. Get an obedience class.
If your dog does something inappropriate, apologize to the staff and other sponsors, then leave. Don’t be like the parent of a naughty kid who only smiles and shrugs his shoulders when he screams endlessly or throws wet Cheerios at people at the nearest table.
Remember, just because you’re at a pet-friendly restaurant doesn’t mean that every other patron loves dogs as much as you do. Wait until you have been invited to visit other people.
Most importantly, make sure your dog has done its job before you get to the restaurant, and pick it up afterward.
For some suggestions on dining establishments that allow dogs, check out DogFri Friendly.com, BringFido.com, PetFri friendlyTravel.com, Dogtrekker.com and Petswelcome.com or just do an online search for “dog-friendly restaurants” and the name of the city . By the way, all of those websites you mention are great resources for finding pet-friendly public places and activities.
One final thought: Feel free to ask your favorite restaurant if they’ll allow your dog on their deck or patio. If so, remember that you and your dog are ambassadors for other dogs and their people: a good experience can lead a restaurateur to adopt a permanent dog-friendly policy.
Joanne Merriam lives in Nevada County with her golden retriever Joey, her shepherd cat Indy, and the enduring spirit of her beloved golden retriever Casey for whom this pillar is named in his memory. You can contact Joan at [email protected] And if you’re looking for a goldfish, be sure to check out Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue.