A few blogs back on June 15, I wrote about new dog bills that the New York State legislature is taking up this year.
Well, one of the more controversial bills passed on June 16, and is now awaiting signature by Gov. Cuomo. Known informally as the “dining with dogs’ bill, the legislation would:
- Allow a customer to bring his or her leashed dog into an “al fresco” area of a restaurant while the customer dines.
- Provide customers bringing their dogs with an alternate entrance to access an outdoor patio, without setting foot inside the restaurant.
- Prohibit customers from bringing dogs into outside areas where food is prepared.
- Require customers who want to provide water for their dogs to bring a disposable container for their dog.
- Allow restaurants to set their own policy on the law.
The bill passed overwhelmingly (with just 5 dissenters), even though New York City’s Department of Health had urged a “no” vote, citing health concerns.
So this is my question: is it really a good idea? And let’s think like lawyers, restaurant employees, and non-dog-owning customers, and look at some of the ‘what ifs.’
- What if someone brings a dog in that barks each time another dog walks by, and other customers ask the manager to request the dog owner leave?
- What if two customers’ dogs get into a dogfight or growl session? Which one would have to leave the restaurant? What if a harassment lawsuit ensues, and the restaurant is named as a third-party?
- What if a customer owns a breed that other customers are afraid of? Can a restaurant owner say yes to the poodle and no to the pit bull? Would a discrimination lawsuit against the restaurant possibly ensue?
- What if wait staff are uncomfortable serving customers with dogs? What if they drop a glass and the dog, not knowing better, steps in it or tries to chew it? Is the restaurant liable for vet bills?
- And lastly, what if someone has 2 dogs, or 3? Can they bring them all?
Many of us want our dogs to be part of our families and, in New York City, dining out is a regular pastime. Do you think that legislators have considered all the scenarios? Pet owners, pet lovers, non-pet-people, please comment!