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How Friendly Are Dog Friendly Restaurants? Part 1

Main Street - St. Charles, MO

The Throwdown –

I’ll be doggone if I ever eat at a restaurant that allows people to bring their canines to outside dining areas. So leads off a recent Dogs and Dining Just Don’t Mix blog post by Reginald Dogan, written in regards to a group of Pensacola, FL restaurants that are petitioning city council for an ordinance that would allow dogs to enjoy outdoor dining with their owners.  Here’s one of Mr. Dogan’s closing remarks: People who want to allow dogs in dining areas are like smokers who want to light up in dining areas. Both are potentially unsanitary and unhealthy to others, and they are often annoying and unpleasant for diners while eating. The blog indicated there were 23 comments, though I only saw 18.

Even more prolific, a Reader: I Want to Hang Out at Restaurant With My Dog post garnered 151 comments. Someone asked this of an Albany, NY food/ restaurant blog written by Steve Barnes:  I love food, and I love my dog. In the winter it is difficult to balance the two. I am writing because I was wondering if you know of any restaurants or bars that are dog friendly. The first sentence of Mr. Barnes reply:  Sorry, but you won’t find sympathy here. I love dogs. I loathe them in this context. The response goes downhill from there. The notable aspect of the post was that Mr. Barnes never answered the reader’s question, and only 4-5 comments provided a doggie dining option … 4 or 5 out of 151!

Before I go any further, I want to note for the record that I have no problem with either writer’s post. (Well, maybe Mr. Barnes could have answered the question before he started lobbing hand grenades.) It’s their blogs … they wrote what they felt … freedom of speech and all that.

Positive Reactions

The Pensacola comments were decidedly for the petitioning restaurants (13 for, 5 against).  But the Albanians were not having any of it (62 against, 39 for, and 50 who bashed either Mr. Barnes or each other.)  Here is a sampling of the positive reactions from both blog posts:

  • I live downtown and walk my 5-lb. dog downtown. I try to plan our walks to end up at a restaurant with outdoor seating that allows dogs. It’s a great break for both of us, and it puts some cash in the restaurant till. I urge the city to let dog owners continue to support these dog-friendly owners.
  • I have a dog who can is very highly trained and well behaved. I do this so that I CAN take him places with me and be a non-disruptive force. He can sit/drop/stand indefinitely and always obeys commands. I doubt any child under the age of three could do this. He is also bathed regularly and doesn’t crap indoors OR in his pants, as toddlers/babies do. Give me a break. There should be nothing wrong with having restaurants in which dogs are permitted. If some people erroneously think this is a hygiene issue (stats, please) they can go to a different restaurant.
  • Doggie dining has been taking place around the state for over 3 years now and in most places, humans and dogs are mixing just fine, with no drama or angst. If Pensacola joins that list, its municipality and businesses will have yet another way to draw loyal visitors and customers.
  • It’s not that people can’t bear to leave their dog for 2-3 hours, it’s that the dog is a member of the family and people like to do things with their family.
  • I see both sides of the argument. I can understand why someone may not want eat lunch where there are dogs present if they’re not a fan of dogs. Fair enough. For those of us who enjoy a day out with our dogs, though, it’s nice to know there are places that allow dogs to hang out. I realize this is a privilege, not a right, and my dog and I act accordingly.
  • I don’t think all restaurants should allow dogs but I see nothing wrong with having some dog friendly establishments. If you don’t like dogs, don’t go to them. It’s all about having the choice. Taking your dog for a walk and stopping for a quick bite can make for a pleasant afternoon.  I’m also not sure why people think having a dog in a restaurant is automatically a health hazard.  It’s not a health hazard in your own kitchen and it doesn’t seem to be a health hazard for service dogs.
  • Like some of the other people have written, I don’t have a strong opinion either way, but I do think we should just allow the market to regulate it. I mean, if the law permitted it and someone decided to open up a dog-friendly restaurant, those who wanted to go could go and those who didn’t could choose not to.

Negative Reactions –

Brace yourself, because some of the negative comments are a little on the salty side.  That said, notice that several comments don’t offer reasons, just vitriol.  Kind of reminds me of a quote I once heard that goes something like: My mind is made up – don’t confuse me with facts.

  • Live animals, including birds and turtles, are to be excluded from food service operations. This exclusion does not apply to edible fish, crustacea, shellfish, or to fish in aquariums. Patrol dogs accompanying security police officers or guide dogs accompanying blind persons are permitted in the dining area. Straight from the NYS State Sanitary Code. I think the bigger issue is liability the owners of the restaurant could be liable if a dog inside of the restaurant bites someone.
  • I think it’s very inappropriate for people to even think of bringing their dogs into a restaurant, where others are going to be eating. At best it’s disruptive and at its worst it’s extremely unsanitary- what if Fido isn’t well enough trained to wait to get outside before doing his business?
  • Personally, I don’t mind dogs, but let’s not forget why it’s a health code violation. Many people are highly allergic to dogs.
  • As a dog owner you have to realize that some people hate dogs. It’s how it is, they are animals, they don’t belong in eateries.
  • Bars and restaurants are for people. If you want to eat and socialize with dogs (wtf???), you should grab a sandwich and eat it at the animal shelter.
  • Oh, and I bet the dog people who see no problem with bringing their animal to a restaurant are the same ones who allow their dogs to defecate in public with reckless abandon.  How about this: You can bring your dog to the restaurant where I’m eating if I can take a s#!t on your front porch, deal?
  • Really, it’s kind of goofy to bring a dog to a restaurant. If you want to share a meal with your pup, get some take-out and do it at home. Let doggie sit at the table with you, or bring your plate down to the floor to join him. Service animals are a different category. They are a physical necessity to their people, and I’ve never, ever seen a badly behaved service dog.
  • This is DISGUSTING. Why do I (a paying customer) want to sit next to YOUR DOG? How presumptuous of you to think that it’s ok for you to subject me to your animal nearby.
  • Unfortunately, just about anybody can become a dog owner, and plenty of those folks who don’t know how to train their dogs have no compunctions about bringing them to eating establishments.
  • I’d love it if people would leave their pets at home instead of inflicting them on the unwilling public, myself. I hate dogs, and my mom’s allergic to them, and many dog people don’t seem to care about either argument.
  • Don’t need to see dog licking its butt while I’m licking my chops.
  • Dogs in restaurants are great, until some thug walks in with his half-starved pit bull to terrorize everyone.

Pro Dog, Anti-Doggie Dining –

What REALLY surprised me was the number of dog owners that spoke out against pet friendly dining.  All of these comments came from the Albany post.

  • I like my dog, but I don’t want him at a restaurant with me. I want to relax.
  • As an owner of two dogs, I agree with the other dog owners who posted here and wouldn’t think of taking their dogs into restaurants. In some places, like France, the culture permits this; here, it doesn’t, and neither does the health code. Why push it?
  • I have 3 animals, including a dog. I love them dearly, but do not dine with them and wouldn’t force anyone else to either. I think taking a dog to a restaurant is a bit over the top and totally agree with Steve!
  • I’m a dog owner, and I love my dog’s company in dog fun like going for a walk, going to the park, or just hanging out watching tv with the fireplace on. All of those things have one thing in common – they are activities that a dog actually enjoys. Why would a dog want to sit on the cold floor of a bar or restaurant while his owner has dinner? That doesn’t sound like fun for a dog.
  • I am a crazy dog lover and when I had my dog (may she rest in peace) I took her to town meetings, farmers markets, etc.  She was an exceptional dog and very sociable and enjoyed visiting with people. But I would NEVER bring her to a restaurant.
  • I spoil my pet like no one’s business, but I have no desire to include her in my restaurant outings or take her in the car with me while I run errands.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 –

In my next post, I will try to make some order out of the the good, the bad, and the ugly … and offer suggestions to people who dine WITH pets and those who might be dining NEAR pets. In the meantime, what are your thoughts … your comments? Let us know!

  • Standscot says:

    Where does one start…let’s see…does everyone who owns a dog actually think that after that dog licks his own ass…he should be kissed or lick the table in a restaurant. And, then, there are the paws that have just been walking on sidewalks, grass, other dogs feces and birds also…and, think that the bacteria isn’t on THEIR little precious. My god people! Where in the world has your senses gone?
    As a Cancer patient and one who has struggled to stay alive…and, yes…that means staying away from most human borne viruses and bacterian… I highly resent the disrespect for others along with their lack of information about germs.

    And, then…please…can we allow those of us who have chosen to go pay good money for a lovely meal on a sunny day…to have that meal without looking at dogs peeing and shitting everywhere? And, then…barking! I would love to have these same people allow their dogs at the Football games…or, their favorite concerts… Or, when they’re trying to impress someone in a very expensive restaurant…bring the dogs with you at the table.

    Frankly, I won’t go anywhere when I see dogs. Are you listening Whole Foods? And, if dogs are permitted at motels or hotels… Forget it! This attitude that these people have i.e. “Well, if you don’t like it go somewhere else”… is the product of such coddling by business’s that will do anything for the almight dollar.

    I won’t fly Southwest now that I know they permit animals on board under your seat. In fact, when I had to return to CA recently. I usually sit in the back with a mask on…when this couple sat in front of me. Asked if there were any animals on board. The attendent pointed to the seat in front of me. Now, what IF I had a seizure…how many miles above… What then?

    So, I think there has to be something done about this situation. I’m sick of it all. While walking around Santa Rosa I noticed how filthy the streets were. Cigarette butts everywhere…also, while crossing the street a huge, frest pile of dog crap right there a few inches from the curb. If someone walked off that curb they could have slipped in that crap and had a nasty accident.

    What is wrong with people….? I truly want to know that answer because I love to socialize, but these people make it impossible to walk and enjoy life as it should be enjoyed.

    • Rod says:

      First, I truly am sorry to read about your cancer illness. In my family, I had a sister that was not a survivor and a mother-in-law that is.

      That said, isn’t it a great world we live in that allows us choice! You can choose what hotel you stay in, what restaurant you eat at, and what airline you fly on. People with pets are looking for the same choices … businesses are offering them … and as owners of GoPetFriendly, we make no apologies for our position.

      I am not going to respond with counterpoints to your assertions, though many of them are just plain wrong. Example, you think dogs are the only ones who track crap on their paws into a place of business. I think people’s shoes walk the same places as a dog’s paws – no difference.

      What I will respond to is your last paragraph. What is wrong with you? It sounds like you don’t like to socialize, or if you do, it’s done under very sterile terms. Frankly, I don’t care if you don’t get what motivates people to enjoy life with their pets outside of the home, in public. It doesn’t matter, and likley, nothing I could say would convince you.

  • Very nice breakdown of reactions both positively and negatively. This article would serve me as a guide when bringing my dog into the restaurant.

  • Agildust says:

    I've got to add that I always bring my small, well-behaved dog with me where ever I go. This includes restaurants with outdoor patios. And speaking of well-behaved, I'm wondering why restaurants allow wild, messy kids – and since they Have to – might as well allow the dogs to clean up after the kids!

  • I took my dog to an outdoor restaurant yesterday for the first time. He was extremely well behaved and I was quite pleased. If he wasn't, I would have left. Dog owners may need to be a big more respectful of other diners. Here's my experience
    http://alldogbootsblog.com/2010/05/08/bringing-

  • […] And more pet friendly news abounds. The North Carolina Division of Environmental Health held a pubic hearing Tuesday about proposed amendments to a rule regarding pets in restaurants. Currently, pets are not allowed on the premises of restaurants except services dogs. A new rule would allow pets on an outdoor patio if they do not enter the porch area through the dining establishment. Just a couple of weeks ago, GoPetFriendly did its own series on dining at pet friendly restaurants. […]

  • […] this question: Can pet friendly hotels sometimes be not so friendly to non-pet guests? Unlike our dog friendly restaurants posts from last week, the comments on this post were a little less … um … […]

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