Foodservice Equipment Reports

Al Fresco Is Fine For Fido In NYC

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has announced its final rules allowing dogs to dine in restaurants’ outdoor eating areas.

Restaurants that welcome canines will have to post signs advising owners that dogs in outdoor dining areas must be “licensed and currently vaccinated against rabies.” The rules, however, don’t require restaurant staff to verify the license or vaccinations.

Initially, the city had proposed rules that would have required restaurants to perform these checks, which some dog advocates and many restaurateurs considered too burdensome and not in keeping with the spirit of the law, since the health department estimates that only 20% of dogs in the city are licensed.

Restaurants also must create a physical barrier on sidewalks limiting contact between passersby (human or canine) and dining dogs, which must remain leashed while on site.

The rules only apply to restaurants that choose to participate in the Dining with Dogs law and don’t affect existing laws governing service dogs. Whether the dogs can get their own entree will be up to the restaurant. “Animal nuisances” (you know what we mean) must be immediately cleaned up by employees who don’t prepare or serve food.

Though the law went into effect in October, some restaurants have been waiting for more information before welcoming four-legged patrons. City health department officials initially opposed the Dining with Dogs legislation, which was signed into law last year by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

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