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Bill discussed allows dogs at outdoor dining

April 24, 2013

Man’s best friend could become a regular dinner guest at some East Lansing restaurant patios if a new bill receives the state Legislators.

Michigan lawmakers this week discussed a bill to allow restaurant customers to bring dogs to outdoor dining areas, as long as the dog will not create a health risk or hazard.

The bill, which was introduced by five Republican state representatives, still grants a local unit of government, such as a city council, the right to adopt an ordinance more restrictive on permitting dogs in outdoor eating areas.

Throughout the Mitten’s months of nice weather, Spartans utilize outdoor seating at local East Lansing restaurants, such as The Peanut Barrel Restaurant.

Manager Meghan Comer said Peanut Barrel already has a policy against them.

“We don’t allow (dogs) on our patio only because (the owner) has had bad experience with dogs digging up his flowers,” she said, adding the restaurant does permit seeing-eye dogs in and outside of the restaurant.

Animal science senior Kelly Simons, president of MSU’s Pre-Veterinary Medical Association, said the bill could bring East Lansing restaurants more business from people who walk their dogs and want to stop for a bite to eat.

“I don’t think there’s much of a sanitary issue,” she said. “People have pets in their house and they eat there.”

Karina MacIntosh, owner of The Classy Canine Professional Dog Grooming Salon said although bringing a dog along to a restaurant could keep them from being cooped up in a overheated car during the summer, pet owners should understand not everyone loves dogs.

“It comes down to the owner being responsible enough,” said MacIntosh, owner of a retriever mix named Chomsky. “They need to make sure that their pets are well behaved, and that could be harder to enforce.”

Simons said this bill could be a way for those apprehensive about dogs to become more comfortable and familiar with certain types of “villainized” breeds, such as pit bulls.

Although the city of East Lansing has not listed an ordinance against allowing dogs on restaurant patios in its code of ordinances, it does have rules restricting owners from entering most public property areas without holding the dog on a leash.

The bill is under discussion in the House tourism committee.

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