Throw a Dog a Dinner Plate: Dining with Your Dog Legalized?

NelsoJ0256cBreastfeeding women aren’t the only people on the restaurateur blacklist. Chances are, if you own a dog and have tried to grab a bite while out and about with your poochy pal, you’ve gotten turned away by a few restaurants and their “sorry, no dogs” policy.

If Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada’s bill makes it past the California Senate, your dog could become your permanent dining companion. Under the current law in California, the only animals that are allowed in restaurants and eating areas are police dogs, service animals for the disabled and special-needs individuals, animals used as consumption along with animals used in decoration (eg. fish in aquariums).

As a dog lover myself, I get concerned when I see someone’s dog tied to a stop sign or some random gate while their owner is presumable eating a half a block away. While I understand that they are complying by the current law and not wanting to disrupt others’ eating experiences, I just don’t think it’s safe to leave one’s pet unattended for a long period of time. There are random people out there who kidnap pets to resell them and other similar shady business, not to mention the risk of your pet escaping. In my opinion, it’s best to either get your food to go or simply leave your pet at home if you know you’re going to be dining at a place that isn’t so dog-friendly.

Yamada’s bill, AB 1965, was approved on May 8 by the State Assembly, and both Los Angeles and Santa Barbara have passed ordinances that allow dogs to be present on the patios of restaurants. Bill supporters also point out that allowing dogs to be present in outdoor spaces will help expand restaurant clientele, giving customers more eating options as well. Those not in favor of the bill mention their concerns for those with allergies and asthma, who would be physically affected by a dog’s presence. Some people are also concerned that the dog owners will not clean up after their pets.

Yamada had this to say when she issued a statement on the subject: “Despite the best efforts of city and county public health departments to balance the desire of restaurant and dog owners with the need to preserve public health, state law currently preempts any effort they make to accommodate dogs on dining patios. AB 1965 remedies this by allowing willing businesses to accommodate customers and their dogs while still providing local governments the option to determine if additional standards are necessary for their communities.”

The bill won’t force restaurants to allow dogs on their patios, but rather, it will make that option for available, leaving it up to individual establishments to make the decision on their own. In my opinion, restaurants in Los-Angeles areas like Silverlake and Los Feliz where many dog owners reside would benefit from having this bill passed. Just like many places have designated smoking and non-smoking areas, a restaurant can have a section for those with dogs and an area for those who are dog-free. There is also the option to simply let the customers without dogs dine inside, while those with dogs would get the patio.

What do you think about AB 1965? Are dog-owners barking up the wrong tree with this one?

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