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L.A. County Allows Doggie Dining

The new policy lets restaurants with outdoor seating invite dogs to chow down with their owners. Take our poll and let us know what you think.

In some Los Angeles County restaurants, dogs will be made to feel as welcome as their owners under a new policy announced today.

Starting immediately, eateries with outdoor dining areas have the option to invite dog owners to chow down with their pets, county officials said. The policy, while familiar in Europe, has been a long time coming in the Southland due to fears of worms and germs and, perhaps, because of worries that canines will "order" everything on the menu.

"After carefully reviewing possible risk factors that may be associated with allowing pet dogs in outdoor dining areas, we determined policy revisions were possible," said Jonathan E. Fielding, the county's top health officer.

"Guidelines have been established to protect food safety and ensure safety for all patrons," he said. "We urge all dog owners to follow these guidelines in order to provide the best possible dining experience for both people and dogs."

Though it will be up to the restaurants' discretion whether to allow animals in outdoor dining areas, the new policy is sure to be a boon to local eateries and the larger community, said county Supervisor Don Knabe.

The policy is expected to attract business and better serve two-legged and four-legged patrons, Knabe said.

The new policy involves L.A. County restaurants inspected by the Public Health Department. Areas not subject to the policy include Pasadena, Long Beach and Vernon.

According to the guidelines, dogs accompanied by humans may be allowed to enter outdoor dinning areas if the following requirements are met:

  • a separate entrance is used where pets do not enter through the food establishment to reach the outdoor dining area;
  • no food preparation takes place in the outdoor dining area, including the dispensing of drinks and ice;
  • plates, silverware, glasses and bowls are not stored, displayed or pre-set at the outdoor dining area;
  • food and water shall be provided only in single-use disposable containers;
  • employees are prohibited from having direct contact with pets while on duty;
  • pets are not allowed on chairs, seats, benches or tables;
  • the outdoor dining area is kept sanitized; and
  • the outdoor dining area is not fully enclosed.

In addition, eatery owners are obligated to follow local city ordinances related to sidewalk, public nuisance and sanitation issues, authorities said.

What do you think of the new law? Should dogs be allowed to join their owners on outdoor patios? Tell us in the comments, below.

Nathan Williamson February 29, 2012 at 05:52 AM
My dogs and family often enjoy a meal at the Park Bench Cafe in Huntington Beach. There's rarely any problems with noise on an incident. Don't sell dog owners short. Most are very responsible.
Kelly Hartog February 29, 2012 at 06:21 AM
Totally agree, Nathan. My dog (in the photo) has been in classes since she was 11 weeks old. She has her AKC S.T.A.R. puppy certificate; her Canine Good Citizen certificate and is currently in class to become a therapy dog and she's only 15 months old. That said, she does have a thing for chasing her tail. Most dog owners I meet are very responsible and those who aren't don't rarely want to take them out to restaurants!
joelle February 29, 2012 at 07:51 AM
I agree... The only thing I disagree with, is that it is not the breed that makes a yapping, barking, ill behaved dog.... It is the owner.
Kathy Straedey February 29, 2012 at 07:57 AM
I find screaming babies and small children destroy my dining experience. Shall we ban them from restaurants? Why is it unsanitary for a dog to sit next to a diner? The animal is not sitting on your plate. I'm guessing the 47% never go near/handle raw meat? Handling raw meat is definitely unsanitary. Should we kill birds who fly over our streets, because that's unsanitary..sheesh.
Sarah Eisenberg February 29, 2012 at 11:08 PM
your kids are WAY more annoying (and WAY dirtier) than anyone's dog.

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