I really just do this to post pics of my dogs

Ed Murrieta writes about the doggie hospitality in the News Tribune of Tacoma, Washington.

As for the health department regulations that prohibit dogs in taverns and restaurants? The owner of the Shamrock Tavern on Pacific Avenue was quoted as saying, "Well, they came in once and told us to keep him out or they’d fine us."

Mike Davis, a food safety supervisor for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, said his department doesn’t go looking for dogs, but “we cite them when we see them. They have their pet sitting in the corner. The code says ‘no.’”

Murrieta then lists the local spots that are doggie friendly. It may be better to lay out some rules so everyone is playing on the same field.

Awesome alliteration: Denver doggie dining

Denver is the latest big city to pursue doggie dining.

In response to a petition on behalf of a local café, Denver Department of Environmental Health spokeswoman Ellen Dumm said the meeting was pushed back to Sept. 13 so the city can research possibilities for a variance or a rule change, "We would rather have a rule change. That would allow restaurants that are interested in doing it to pursue it."

We say, the evidence suggests that dogs can and should be allowed on restaurant patios — but only at the discretion of restaurant staff and only if staff and owners follow the Florida protocol.

Doggy dining

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Florida’s so-called doggy dining law, a three-year experiment allowing pooches on restaurant patios.

Watching dogs in restaurants, stores and trains as we tour France has made us wonder if indeed 60 million Frenchmen can’t be wrong.

Yet the other night during dinner at a patio table next to us, a couple sat with their ‘tween son and a tiny doggy that they passed from person to person until the food came. The Yorkie was then expected to sit calmly under a chair while his family ate. Within minutes he started yelping when a large stray wandered by looking for handouts. Most of the diners good-naturedly ignored the dog, but our neighbors, clear dog lovers, juggled patting the big beast, feeding table scraps to their own puppy, keeping the two from scuffling (surely the tiny dog would win), and finishing their dinners. The management softly discouraged feeding scraps to the stray, but there was no real effort made to dissuade him from joining the families.
No one seemed bothered.

But poop happens. Having to engage in athletic contortions to avoid dog poop in the narrow streets of Nîmes, Marseilles or Toulouse makes us recognize that dogs without yards, grass-lined sidewalks, and pooper-scoopers, quickly make an otherwise lovely city unsanitary. One pioneering doggy-friendly restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida discovered this when a canine guest had diarrhea during peak hours. The owner said, "Ultimately, we’re here to serve people, not dogs," and reverted to the no-dogs-allowed camp.

As lawmakers in Oregon, Missouri, Washington, Florida, Chicago, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, New York City and San Diego have discovered, there are reasons why dogs and their companions should — and should not — be allowed to “have a brewski together, a hot dog together or whatever they want” as former governor Jeb Bush worded it a year ago in enacting Florida’s legislation.
Florida appears to have considered the risks — at least on paper. And although doggy dining may be convenient for a client, for the restaurant owner it’s not as simple.

Under the law, Florida cities are able to enact an ordinance allowing restaurants to apply for permission to open their patio doors to dogs, under the following conditions:
• food service employees must not touch, pet or handle dogs while serving food or beverages;
• food service employees must wash their hands promptly after touching, petting or handling dogs;
• patrons must be advised to wash their hands before eating and the restaurant must provide waterless hand sanitizer at each table;
• dogs must not come into contact with serving dishes, utensils and tableware or other items involved in food service (this is the only applicable law in France);
• dogs will not be allowed on chairs, tables or other furnishings.
• accidents involving dog waste must be cleaned immediately and the area must be sanitized;
• cats and other pets are not covered by the law; and,
• local governments can issue a fee to the restaurants for  permit.

While the benefits for a dog-loving nation may seem apparent, there are any number of risks: tripping, biting, dog fights, barking, allergies, and the transfer of dangerous microorganisms such as E. coli, salmonella and cryptosporidium, among others. If it’s difficult to get employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom, what about after touching a dog? And do public health inspectors, who already investigate both dog bites and restaurants in many cities, really need more of both without extra help?

The transfer of pathogens from dogs to humans (and vice-versa) is well-documented — but not on restaurant patios. The outbreaks of foodborne illness just aren’t there. A pre-rehab Britney Spears changing her baby’s diaper on a restaurant table likely poses a greater risk.

As pet owners, we would likely choose to frequent restaurants that allow our (exceedingly well-behaved) dogs on the terrace, as we have done in the past.

If we were restaurant owners, we would want to know we weren’t serving poop, whether it came with the bags of spinach, was ground up in the beef that wasn’t sufficiently cooked, or transmitted on our patio by a pet. Further, we’d want to know the dog — and more importantly the owner — before they came anywhere near our patio.

The evidence suggests that dogs can and should be allowed on restaurant patios — but only at the discretion of restaurant staff and only if staff and owners follow the Florida protocol.

Amy Hubbell and Douglas Powell are with the International Food Safety Network at Kansas State University.

Doggy Dining

Pictured: Restaurant in Nîmes, France

In France dining with your dog is a part of every day life.  Dogs go in restaurants, grocery stores, and even on trains with their owners.  The other night at dinner at a table next to us, a couple sat with their ‘tween son and a tiny doggy that they passed from person to person until the food came.  Then he was expected to sit calmly under the chair.  He started yelping quickly afterwards when a very big dog came wondering around the restaurant’s terrace looking for handouts (see above photo).

We are the owners of two dogs and two cats who live with us in Kansas.  Our lives would be more convenient if we could live like the French and both walk our dogs and sit in restaurants with them on the patio.  We used to be able to do this at one of our favorite restaurants in Manhattan, but the management there recently changed and they told us we would have to attach the dogs on the outside of the railing rather than have them at the table with us.  They even brought us cups of water for the pooches so they wouldn’t get too hot.  Sadie, who was a puppy at the time, dug up their herb garden, and we decided we’d better leave.

Around the same time that rule changed last fall, a reporter called Doug and asked what he thought about the doggy dining laws in Florida.  My reaction was that I would frequent a restaurant that allowed me to bring my dog, but if I were a restaurant owner, I would not allow dogs on the patio.  Beyond the liability issues of “What if a customer’s dog bit one of my staff or other clients?” I see people do all sorts of strange things with their pets.  I confess, I too am guilty of letting my dog lick my plate, but some people even share their food while they’re eating it.  As a restaurant owner, knowing I am liable if someone gets sick in my restaurant, and knowing that dogs do often eat poop and live to …err.. tell about it, I wouldn’t trust that a customer wouldn’t sue me for their E. coli poisoning if they got sick from their dog’s germs.  The U.S. has strict liability laws when it comes to food safety.  If I served the food with poop, I’d be hard pressed to prove where it came from.