Dog-Friendly Dining: How Restaurants Can Promote Safety and Comfort for All Patrons
Pet patios are increasingly popular at breweries, wineries and other restaurants. Having our furry friends with us at brunch can be a lot of fun, but that fun can end abruptly and lead to injury under certain circumstances.
Allowing pets in your establishment is a great way to please customers and increase revenue, but it can also increase liability issues and contribute to possible health code violations. Consider adopting the following control measures before letting the dogs out at your establishment.
Navigating Local Regulations
Be sure to check with the local city council to help ensure that pets are permitted, by code, on patios that serve food/drinks. Pets are often allowed on patios, but establishments must meet requirements to comply with city code. The city should provide minimum guidelines to maintain this pet-friendly permit. Most often, your establishment will fill out a form/application and pay an annual fee. After you have submitted the form and paid the fee, you can anticipate an inspection by the city health department.
General Guidelines and Best Practices for Pet Patios
- Create a separate entrance to the patio so pets don’t go through the food establishment to reach the outdoor patio/dining area.
- Post a sign at the front entrance of the food/drink establishment and on the outdoor patio so it is easily visible.
- Sign sizes, text and layout might be dictated by local codes.
- The sign should be printed in English and Spanish. Examples of text on the sign:
DOG-FRIENDLY PATIO – DOG ACCESS ONLY THROUGH THE OUTDOOR PATIO. FOR COMPLAINTS RELATED TO THE DOG-FRIENDLY PATIO, CALL XXXX.
PATIO APTO PARA PERROS - ACCESO DE PERROS SOLAMENTE POR EL PATIO EXTERIOR, PARA REALIZAR DENUNCIAS RELACIONADAS CON EL PATIO APTO PARA PERROS, LLAME AL XXXX.
- Don’t conduct food preparation, including mixing drinks or serving ice, in the outdoor patio area.
- This means that table set-ups, utensils, glasses and condiments should not be on the patio until the customer is seated.
- While on duty, don’t permit wait staff or other food handlers at the establishment to pet or have contact with any dog.
- The outdoor patio must always be maintained, and the following guidelines should be followed:
- The patio should be free of visible dog hair and dander, and other dog-related debris.
- The patio should be hosed down or mopped daily before operating hours.
- Waste created from a dog’s bodily functions must be cleaned up using animal-friendly chemicals within five minutes of the occurrence.
- You must keep a log of the cleaning schedule for the dog-friendly patio, and the log must be available to inspectors/customers upon request.
- Ensure that all dogs are kept on a leash and remain under the constant control of the customer while in the outdoor patio area.
- All dogs must wear a collar or harness with a current rabies tag and current registration tag to gain entrance to and remain in the outdoor patio area.
- Don’t allow dogs on seats, tables, countertops or similar surfaces in the outdoor patio area.
- Don’t allow dogs to have contact with any dishes or utensils used for food service or preparation at the establishment.
- Ensure that food and water are served to pets in single-use disposable containers only.
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