How to Advocate for “Pets on Patios” Legislation

Pets are good for business. Our “Keeping People and Pets Together” research found that over 55% of pet parents said having a pet along would make them more comfortable at outdoor restaurants and events. In other words, they may visit more and stay longer.

If you’re interested in offering a pet-friendly patio at your business, the first step is making sure your local regulations allow it. If it’s not, talk with your local government representative to advocate for the benefits of making pets welcome, and share this sample ordinance to help kick off the process.

Pet Housing Model Ordinance – Pets in Outdoor Dining Areas

MUNICIPALITY

ORDINANCE NUMBER

AN ORDINANCE to amend [SECTION] of the [MUNICIPAL STATUTES/CODE] allowing pets in outdoor dining areas.

WHEREAS, pet ownership promotes a healthy, active lifestyle and facilitates emotional connections between community members; and

WHEREAS, pet owners are more likely to meet people in their communities and people report feeling safer in their communities when pets are in public; and

WHEREAS, allowing pets in outdoor dining areas creates greater opportunities for people to bond with their pets and interact with other pet owners, and drives economic benefits for participating restaurants;

Be it ordained by the Mayor and Council of [MUNICIPALITY, COUNTY, AND STATE] as follows:

SECTION 1. Pets under the control of a person shall be permitted in an outdoor dining area of a food establishment, or a designated portion of an outdoor dining area, if the following conditions are met:

  1. The owner of the food establishment elects to allow pets;
  2. The pet is on a leash or confined to a pet carrier;
  3. A separate outdoor entrance is present where pets enter without going through the food establishment;
  4. Signs are conspicuously posted indicating that pets are allowed in the outdoor dining area;
  5. Pets are not allowed on chairs, benches, seats or other fixtures;
  6. The outdoor dining area is not used for food or drink preparation or the storage of utensils;
  7. Food and water provided to pets shall only be in single-use disposable containers;
  8. Food establishment employees are prohibited from having direct contact with pets while on duty. Any employee who does have such direct contact shall wash their hands thoroughly;
  9. The outdoor dining area is maintained clean, and surfaces that have been contaminated with pet excrement or other body fluids shall be cleaned and sanitized;
  10. A covered refuse container shall be located in the outdoor dining area and shall be used exclusively to store all pet waste generated;
  11. The food establishment owner ensures compliance with local ordinances related to sidewalks, public nuisance, and sanitation, and
  12. The food establishment owner shall request that a pet owner remove from the establishment any pet that menaces, threatens or bites any person or other pet. The food establishment owner shall not serve a pet owner who refuses to comply with a request to remove such a pet.

SECTION 2. Except as specified by applicable regulations of [STATE] and the federal Food and Drug Administration, all live animals are prohibited from entering indoor areas of food establishments. 

SECTION 3. This ordinance shall take effect immediately.


Explanation of the Model Ordinance

a. Section 1

Section 1 allows pets to be present in outdoor dining areas of food establishments, provided they are under the control of a person, the food establishment elects to allow pets, and the food establishment meets certain conditions.

b. Section 2

Section 2 notes that live animals remain prohibited from indoor areas of food establishments, with the exception of certain circumstances as specified in state and federal regulations.

Want more tips? Check out the Pets Welcome Toolkit for info about how to launch a pet-friendly business initiative that can benefit businesses, pet parents and pets.

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