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It's Now Legal to Dine Out With Your Dog In New York
Photo: pets4homes.co.uk

Pet friendly establishments are popping up in towns all over the United States – all over the world, in fact. Some businesses think it’s a great idea, while others are not so sure. Either way you look at it, dog owners make up a large percentage of the population, and gearing your business towards that demographic would probably be a great choice. Restaurant owners in New York are now able to allow dogs in their eatery’s outdoor location if they so choose.

Thanks to a bill that was signed into law by New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, restaurant owners can now decide if they want to allow pet parents to be able to bring their dogs in for a bite (of food, that is). The law is effective immediately, and it allows restaurants to make the choice as long as there is a separate entrance that doesn’t require the canine to walk indoors where food is prepared.

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Gov. Cuomo approved 39 bills late Monday afternoon. He also rejected 22 bills, including one that was looking to direct state money to programs that catch, neuter and release feral cats. Before Monday, New York’s health code prohibited dogs that were not official guide dogs from entering a restaurant’s outdoor patio or deck area.

Along with the second entrance, participating restaurants will also need to have “reasonable signage” notifying all customers that canines are allowed in the outdoor area. Dogs must also be on a leash at all times with no exceptions. Canines are also still prohibited from sitting on benches, chairs, seats and any other fixtures, and if the animal is served any food or water it must be in a single-use container.

It's Now Legal to Dine Out With Your Dog In New YorkIt's Now Legal to Dine Out With Your Dog In New York
Photo: dogvacay.com

If the dog happens to go to the bathroom while visiting the restaurant there are specific rules for that too. The law states “surfaces that have been contaminated by dog excrement or other bodily fluids shall be cleaned and sanitized.” Animal lovers are overjoyed with the passing of the bill, but some still questions Cuomo’s reasoning for not passing the feral cat bill.

The Governor weighed in by explaining that the bill would have taken money from state dog licensing fees and directed them toward the nonprofit groups dedicated to neutering the feral cats, which have become a growing problem in towns and cities in upstate New York. His reasoning for rejecting the bill is that it may actually be illegal. The state Agriculture and Markets Law prevents animal shelters from releasing cats or dogs in any way other than by adoption or to an owner that claims it.

Of course, as a dog lover I am all for allowing dogs to accompany their owners when eating at a restaurant that offers an outdoor option. We take our dogs almost everywhere, as we know they are well trained and will listen to our commands no matter where we may be. When our dogs go with us to public places they behave well, do not bother other people and listen when told to sit or lie down next to us.

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However, I have seen many dogs in public places that do not behave or listen to their owner, so I can see why some people would be against a law like this. Ultimately, it is still up to the restaurant owner whether they choose to allow dogs into their establishment or not, but I believe that with the number of pet owners growing at an astronomical rate, it would probably be good for business.

I’m sure like most other things, it will only take a few misbehaving dogs to upset business owners, though. If you are bringing your dog with you to any pet-friendly place, whether it’s a dog park, hotel or restaurant, make sure your dog is well-behaved. There are lots of websites with tips and tricks for pet etiquette while in public places. Do some quick research and if your Fido isn’t capable of behaving in a public setting, please leave him home until he has the proper training.