Attention all owners of good boys around Colorado: A bill introduced this month in the state Senate would make it easier for you to bring your dog onto restaurant patios.
Senate Bill 20-078 outlines rules for restaurants looking to cater to dogs and their owners. If it’s passed, restaurants can still choose to allow dogs, or not, moving forward.
“This isn’t just the ‘dogs run amok’ bill, it’s ‘good dogs on good patios,’” Sen. Kerry Donovan, who introduced the bill along with Rep. Alec Garnett, told The Denver Post.
“Colorado loves their dogs, so it seemed like it was valuable to make (the law) clear,” she added. “If you want to have some furry friends on your patio, you can go for it if you follow the rules.”
If passed, the new Colorado law would be permissive, meaning businesses can choose to opt in. And it would include guidelines for restaurants looking to allow furry friends outside but on-premise.
Those guidelines include where a dog may sit or lay on a patio (on the ground), where food should be prepared if dogs are allowed (nowhere near the animals) and where pets can roam when they’re patronizing a restaurant (nowhere; they have to be on leashes or in carriers).
If made into law, it would likely take effect by late summer or early fall, just in time for the tail-end of patio season.
Donovan says she wants businesses to have more guidance “when trying to comply with the law while reflecting the values of their community.”
“The state is largely silent on the issue,” she added, “which leads to confusion of whether it’s allowed or not allowed.”
While the state’s food code does prohibit dogs from entering restaurant patios, a variance enacted last summer allows businesses to stray provided they meet certain conditions and work with their local governments for approval.
In 2014, the city of Denver enacted clear rules for restaurants interested in allowing dogs on their patios.
Businesses must provide street or sidewalk patio entrances for customers with animals, they have to post signs where dogs are allowed, and, in the case of larger patios, need to offer non-dog-friendly seating as well, with clear boundaries.
Patios smaller than 400 square feet can only allow dogs where there is no wait-service.
“I think most people take us up on this (law),” Abby Davidson, the city’s food safety and cannabis program manager, told The Denver Post. “Especially the neighborhood places do this and do this well.”
While Denver doesn’t keep a list of all its dog-approved restaurant patios, the city and the state both receive a ton of requests from business owners, according to Davidson and Troy Huffman with the Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment. Now the trend might extend further.
“I am a dog owner, and I come from a community where dogs are absolutely members of the family and part of the social fabric,” Donovan said. “It seems like a good step to take.”
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