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Lawmakers Closer To Letting The Dogs Out…At Restaurants

May 25, 2017

Dog on Leash Near Patio
Credit Alan Levine / flickr.com

If you want to take your favorite dog out to eat with you, you might soon be in luck. 


The state Senate passed a bill Wednesday to allow restaurants to have dogs on their outdoor patios.

The legislation gives specific requirements restaurants have to meet in order to let Fido on the patio. Requirements include having a separate entrance to the patio so the dogs don’t go through the restaurant and the outdoor area is kept free of visible dog hair, dander, waste and debris.  Local governments can impose stricter requirements or ban the practice all together. 

Republican Senator Margaret O’Brien is a bill sponsor.  She says letting dogs accompany their humans to restaurants is part of being a tourist state. 

“We have hotels that allow dogs in there, we’ve got dog parks, we have dog drinking fountains, but there’s way – nowhere for tourists to enjoy any kind of fine dining or any of our great breweries with their pet.  So that’s a hole in our tourism.”

But not everyone is on board with eating their pasta next to a pooch. Republican Senator Darwin Booher voted against the legislation.  He said he doesn’t like the idea of having a stranger’s dog around him while he’s eating.

“And I love dogs. But I have a real problem with putting that in the law,” he said.  “That dog can be up there, doing whatever they do, maybe fighting with a dog that the next guy had and I’m trying to have a meal.”

Matt Blakely is with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.  They were neutral on the bill, but Blakely said restaurants can already get a waiver to allow dogs on their patios.

“If there is improvement to that process, be happy to help with that, but, at this point I don’t know that a new law is necessary,” he said.

The bill is now on its way to the state House.  For more information, see SB 0122

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org