Dining with Dogs Bill Passes in NY State Senate

by

Jillian Blume

August 13th, 2016

The human race may be categorized as dog lovers and everyone else, but both sides will now be rubbing shoulders and paws in NYC’s outdoor restaurants. The Dining with Dogs bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and Kemp Hannon, Chair of the Health Committee, passed the NYS Senate and was signed by the governor in June 2016. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world for New York restaurants, and this bill will help to give those that opt in a leg up against the competition,” said Rosenthal in a statement.

While pet parents know that some dog-loving restaurateurs have been allowing dogs in their outdoor dining spaces for years, many restaurant owners toed the line and followed the restrictions previously imposed by the New York City Department of Health.

What restaurants might not realize is that those of us with four-legged families choose our favorite restaurants based on their pet-friendly policy. In other words, restaurants that maintain a no-dogs policy have been losing the business of dog owners citywide. And that’s quite a lot of business. As of 2012, there were 600,000 dogs living in bliss with their humans in New York City.

Even with the bill signed into law, restaurants are still allowed to say no to dogs. And if they do choose to welcome dogs to their outdoor dining rooms, there are some rules and requirements:

  • A second entrance must be available so dogs don’t ever enter the closed part of the restaurant.
  • No food preparation happens in the dogs-welcome area.
  • All food and water provided for dogs must be in disposable containers.
  • All restaurant employees must avoid contact with canines, and if they cannot, must wash their hands afterward.
  • The outdoor dining area must be properly cleaned and sanitized.
  • A sign must be posted stating that companion dogs are allowed in the outdoor dining area. Service dogs are still allowed in the areas where companion dogs are not.
  • Dogs must be on a leash or in a carrier.
  • Dogs must be licensed and vaccinated against rabies, but patrons will not need to show documentation.

This is great news for New York City’s many dog lovers. “People have been dining with dogs all over Europe for years and in California for the last year, and to date, these jurisdictions have not seen an increase in dog bites or complaints related to the dogs,” said Rosenthal. “Here in New York City, we already live side by side with our canine family members. This bill addresses public safety while also recognizing that there is a desire among New Yorkers to bring their dogs to dinner.”

Dogs with bad manners, however, will need your attention. If you’re a newbie in terms of dog training skills, it’s very helpful to sign-up for one the many dog obedience classes citywide. A dog that has mastered the basic commands is a safer dog in terms of their own well being and the well being of other dogs and humans around them. Sit, stay, down, and quiet are the foundation of doggy dining manners. Behaviors that must be changed before bringing your dog to dinner include begging, barking, and marking.

Pamela Blackwell, co-founder of Blossom Restaurants in NYC has this to say: “I am thrilled to learn that the NY Assembly has passed the Dining with Dogs bill. Being a restaurant owner of nine years and a lifelong New Yorker, it is encouraging to know that we are progressing in this way. There is no doubt in my mind that restaurants will benefit greatly from the passing of this bill, and that countless New Yorkers will be thrilled as well.”

Social Compassion in Legislation worked with Rosenthal to get this bill passed in New York. They work primarily in California where the bill has been in effect throughout the state since 2014; this is their first out-of-state bill. President of SCIL, Judie Mancuso, commented, “We would like to send our deepest appreciation to Governor Cuomo for signing the “Dining with Dogs” bill for the State of New York. Since it has been law in California, the outcome has been more families enjoying their new favorite restaurants with their furry best friends. This law is a crowd pleaser for entrepreneurs and the pet loving community, congratulations New York!”

Outdoor weather season in New York City is now going to be as much fun now as a barrel of monkeys…or rather, a pack of dogs being seated with their humans in their local cafés.