Sharing public eating spaces with your dog

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by Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger,

I had the opportunity to attend my first Interested Party meeting at the Riffe Center in Columbus, Ohio.  It was to discuss the passing of House Bill 263 created by Representative Lanese.  The legal description of the Bill is, “To enact section 3717.14 of the Revised Code to generally allow an owner, keeper or harborer of a dog to take the dog in an outdoor dining area of a retail food establishment or food service operation.”  Or in laymen’s terms, allow the sharing of public eating spaces with dogs.

You would think something as basic as allowing a dog to spend time with their owner in a public location wouldn’t require investigation and input from several Public Health Departments and the Ohio Department of Agriculture as well as special interest groups, but I learned it is a serious process to insure good health standards and take in the considerations of those who may not feel comfortable with a dog next to them while eating.

At the meeting we discussed whether staff could touch dogs or not, if a dog would be allowed in their owner’s lap (or in a sling as one of the attendees mentioned he did with his Yorkie), who is liable for damages caused by the dog as well as waste clean up, what the definition of a patio is according to the State of Ohio and more.

Those in attendance were genuine in their desire to have dogs and humans coexist in a public space and willing to give their time and support to create an opportunity for responsible dog owners and their well-mannered, healthy dogs to share in an experience common to Europe and in states such as California, Rhode Island, Maryland, Florida.

In fact currently there are restaurants in other states that have dog lounges and menus specific for dogs.  Times certainly are changing as dogs become more a part of our family.  My hope is not only for dog owners to see training their dogs as opportunities to attend more public spaces together, but also to become more responsible dog owners which may require them to be accepting that their dog may not be the breed or have the temperament to go to a restaurant.

If you would like to provide Representative Lanese’s office with any feedback her aide’s email is Graham.Lescallette@ohiohouse.gov.
To support the Pups on Patios HB 263, you can get involved with Ohio 4 Pups on Patios