State may leave it up to restaurant owners to allow dogs on patios

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State may leave it up to restaurant owners to allow dogs on patios

A new bill introduced Thursday in the Ohio House would let you bring your dogs to restaurant patios unless the establishment’s owner says “no.”

State Rep. Laura Lanese, R-Grove City, is sponsoring House Bill 263, which would allow dogs in outdoor dining areas. The bill would block local public health officials from implementing or enforcing bans. Restaurants would still have the ability to ban dogs, except service dogs.

In May, the Columbus Dispatch reported that local health officials in Columbus fired off a letter to restaurants licensed by the city reminding them of the no pets rule. The same deal applies in Montgomery County: live animals aren’t allowed on the premises of a food service operation or retail food establishment.

The prohibition is to protect against potential food contamination and disease transfer. But some states have loosened or eliminated the ban.

A bill similar to Lanese’s is pending in the Michigan Legislature. New York State Legislature passed a bill in 2015 that allows restaurant owners the option to allow dogs to accompany a human diner at sidewalk patios or garden areas. California law changed in 2014 to allow dogs to join diners.

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