Eating out with your dog

If you are a regular reader of this column, by now you know that I am a firm believer in taking my dog ​​with you when I go places. I feel real pains of guilt if I have to leave Joey alone when I’m away from home. I can’t help but wonder why the US isn’t like many European countries where well-behaved dogs are welcome pretty much everywhere humans congregate, restaurants included.

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.

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