Dining with dogs now legal: Restaurants may now cater to canines, if outside

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Throughout all of California, dogs may soon dine with their owners on restaurant patios, under certain conditions. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the legislation, which will be effective January 2015.

Assembly Bill 1965, sponsored by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), gives restaurant owners the option to permit canines and humans to chow together, if certain conditions are met, and no local ordinance prohibits the comingling.

Current law permits dogs to dine outside food establishments if the dogs are under the control of a uniformed law enforcement officer or a disabled employee or person in an area not used for food preparation.

However, AB 1965 allows local governing bodies to prohibit the presence of pet dogs even in the outside dining areas. And the owner of the restaurant must also permit the joint dining area. The bill does not mandate providing separate canine corners.

A separate outdoor entrance must be available for dogs to enter without going through the food establishment and pet dogs are not allowed on chairs, benches, seats or other fixtures. The law also states, “The pet dog is on a leash or confined in a pet carrier and is under the control of the pet owner.”

In reviewing Yamada’s bill, the Senate Rules Committee report identified a 2013 article in the “Journal of Environmental Health,” which found the “overall public health risk is low as long as safety, sanitation and hygiene practices are stringently enforced.”

Some local California jurisdictions have already enacted ordinances to make this practice lawful. The Senate Rules Committee noted that “the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health implemented guidelines for the allowance of pet dogs in outdoor dining areas. These guidelines are similar to those outlined in this bill … and other county environmental and public health departments, including Pasadena, Sacramento and Santa Barbara, have issued guidelines for allowing dogs in outdoor dining areas.”

After Brown signed the legislation, Yamada said in a press release, “It will soon be legal to take your beagle with you to dinner. With Governor Brown’s signature, restaurateurs in California will see more businesses catering to their customers and the canine companions they love. I wish everyone ‘bone-appétit.’”

 

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