The Raleigh News & Observer reports today that Wake County health authorities have begun enforcing a no doggie-dining rule, an interpretation of a North Carolina state rule that prohibits pets from "a food preparation or storage area." The crackdown was apparently in response to a list of pet-friendly patios listed in the News & Observer last week.
Restaurateur Greg Hatem, questioned how health officials can regulate activity on sidewalks, where many of his restaurants have outdoor tables.
"I don’t know how it would create any more of an environmental risk than people walking dogs by on the sidewalk," Hatem said. "If they want to regulate something, we have a lot of street vagrants hounding our guests who are probably more of an environmental risk than the puppies."
"We’re certainly pet-friendly," Hatem said. "We’re going to continue to be pet-friendly until we’re told otherwise."
There are a number of potential risks including tripping, biting, dog fights, barking, allergies, and the transfer of dangerous microorganisms such as E. coli, Salmonella and Cryptosporidium. While pathogens can be transferred from pet-to-human and back and theoretically cause illness, there haven’t been any patio-related outbreaks recorded.
Florida recently enacted rules permiting doggie dining with provisions to reduce pet and owner co-eating related risks; some restaurants have also set aside entire sections for doggie dining. Rules state that hand sanitizer be available, restaurant staff are not allowed to touch the pets while working and poop must be picked up promptly. Seems reasonable.