More restaurant markets call for dog-side dining


OLYMPIA, Wash. Dallas and the state of Washington are following Florida’s lead in seeking to loosen regulations that prohibit consumers from bringing their dogs to restaurants.

Dallas’ City Council voted 8-5 Wednesday to allow local restaurants to apply for a variance from a state law that bars pooches from sitting with their masters in outdoor dining areas, according to news reports.  The dogs would still not be permitted to enter the building, however, even to pass through on their way to a patio.  Nor would the two-legged patron be allowed to let the dog touch a server or stand on a chair or table.

Restaurants would have to alert the public that the establishment is dog-friendly and would need curtains in place to separate indoor dining areas from the patio.

A bill under consideration here would allow restaurants with a liquor license to welcome dogs into their bars if a patron keeps it on a leash and ensures it behaves well. The measure was introduced by state Sen. Jacobsen, a Democrat who told the media that he was motivated by the sight of dogs waiting outside bars during the state’s frequent rain showers while their masters were inside.

A bill permitting dogs to join their masters in restaurants’ outdoor dining area was introduced in Florida’s legislature to near-ridicule in 2005. But the often-lighthearted media coverage led to an outcry from the public to take the matter seriously. State lawmakers eventually passed a compromise measure that allows local governments to pass an exemption to state health-code regulations that prohibit any dog except a certified assistance animal from being on a restaurant’s premises. A number of towns have since taken advantage of the loophole and now permit canines to accompany their masters while dining al fresco.