Pets are barred from restaurants principally because of behavioral and physical safety concerns. Pets are animals. They lap, they drool. Their table manners are negligible. They're known to shed, bark, growl and bite, even maim.
When the Denver Board of Environmental Health approved city regulations to allow dogs on patios, the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) advised its members against allowing pets in outdoor areas. The association stated, "The CRA believes that allowing dogs in customer areas poses risks for restaurant operators, their patrons and their employees" [source: CRA].
What about illness and disease? Laura Hungerford, a University of Maryland School of Medicine professor of epidemiology and doctor of veterinary medicine, says the risk of getting sick from an animal is much less than the chances of getting sick from another human [source: Malby].
Cleanliness seems to be the bigger issue. Imagine eating a meal while at a nearby table a dog is busy scratching fleas. There's also bathroom etiquette. Dogs are trained to do their business outside, and restaurants aren't in the business of cleaning up after animals. Nor do they want to expose their patrons to such sights while eating.
Sometimes one bad pet-related incident can make a restaurant owner revoke a pet-friendly policy. Even if you and Fido have frequented a local pub's outdoor patio, be sure to call before returning to see if owners still allow you and your furry friend to dine out together.
Because they require an outdoor seating area, pet-friendly restaurants are easier to find in more temperate climates. Florida and California have state and local laws that permit pets in outdoor restaurants and cafes. While there are about a dozen pet-friendly restaurants in Manhattan, the outdoor areas are limited to late spring, summer and early fall.
Also, be alert to regional variations. Different areas will have different levels of tolerance for animals. Dog owners have found places with outdoor seating in Baltimore, Md., much more tolerant of their pets than in touristy Annapolis, Md.[source: Malby].
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