Palm Beach Gardens, Florida may become the first municipality in Palm Beach County to officially approve dog friendly dining in outdoor seating areas of local restaurants.
Palm Beach Gardens city council voted 3-0 on August 19th in favor of amending Chapter 14 of the Code of Ordinances by creating a new article entitled “Dog Friendly Dining.” The new ordinance would establish a local exemption to a state law prohibiting dogs from dining with their owners at restaurants.
Under the ordinance, feasting al fresco with Fifi means restaurants would be required to apply for a $175 permit from the city, display rules signage and designate specific areas for dog dining. Though initially approved, the council decided to dig a little deeper into the subject and will meet again before finalizing the vote.
“We’re close. This is a really good start,” said Vice-Mayor Bert Premurosso about the amendment. “I think we need to incorporate something that maybe gives it more teeth.”
Dog Friendly Restaurants Breaking the Rules
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed a bill into law (Section 509.233, Florida Statutes) in 2006 allowing local governments of the state the option to establish procedures regulating dining with man’s best friend. Even so, many eateries with patios already allow dog friendly seating, meaning technically they are breaking the law that governs standards for sanitary dining practices. Woof.
According to www.floridapets.net, other Florida cities that have approved doggie dining include Tampa, Bradenton, Cocoa Beach, Jacksonville, Melbourne, Miami Beach, Orlando, Sarasota, Stuart, Tampa and Vero Beach.
New Rules to Obey
Restaurants choosing to purchase a permit from the city would need to comply with all requirements of state law, including having to:
-designate outdoor seating areas open to dog dining
-immediately clean and sanitize areas affected by dog waste
-provide signage advising patrons and employees of applicable rules
-clean and sanitize all table and chair surfaces between seating of patrons
-provide hand sanitizers at all dog dining designated tables.
A dog would not be permitted to enter the interior of a restaurant under the new regulations. It would also be forbidden for a dog to come into contact with any type of food instrument and must remain on a leash and under the reasonable control of its owner. There is no mention in the law for any other type of pet other than dogs.
The city would not encourage or discourage restaurants from participating, according to members of the council, and permits would be optional for restaurateurs.
When and if the ordinance is finally adopted, the city would conduct routine inspections of dog-welcoming restaurants to ensure compliance, issue violations and provide records to the State of Florida.
Some members of the public as well as members of the city council shared concerns about procedures if the ordinance were implemented.
“I’m an animal lover and I vote leave the dogs at home,” said Carole Estrada of Palm Beach Gardens. “Not everybody that patronizes restaurants and public places are from Palm Beach Gardens and they’re not aware of it,” she said. “If you see a violation, who am I going to call right quick?”
Other unresolved issues at the meeting revolved around liability, possible requirements for AKC Canine Good Citizen certification and how to provide water to dogs in the Florida heat if they are not allowed to use the good china.
The council is tentatively scheduled to retrieve the issue at its next meeting on September 16th.
The 2010 Florida Statutes
http://www.Flsenate.gov website, regulation 509.233
Palm Beach Gardens, A Signature city, Agendas and Minutes, City Council, 08/19/10 Audio
American Kennel Club