Gov. Abbott signs bill allowing dogs in outdoor dining areas

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - More and more restaurants across the state will soon be able to make their outdoor dining areas Fido-friendly after Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 476.

The bill, which takes effect Sept. 1, will give the green light to restaurant owners to permit customers to dine in the company of their four-legged friends.

The bill states that restaurants may allow dogs in outdoor dining areas if they post a sign stating dogs are permitted, among other conditions. 

Under the bill, the dog and its owner will have to be on their best behavior, meaning that the owner must keep the dog on a leash and control the dog. The dog may not sit on a table, countertop or similar surface and cannot be in an area where food is made. Dogs are also prohibited from entering the restaurant. 

READ THE BILL

The bill states that municipalities may not enact more stringent laws than the conditions outlined in the bill. 

Currently, San Antonio has an ordinance that states that restaurants must pay a nonrefundable $200 application fee to apply for a variance from Texas Food Establishment Rules if they seek to make their outdoor dining areas pet-friendly. Also under the ordinance, patios must be free of dog hair, dog dander and dog-related waste or debris.

The ordinance currently provides that dogs may not be given any food while in the outdoor patio area and that hand sanitizer must be at all entrances and exits to the restaurant. The ordinance also prohibits any restaurant employees from touching the dog.

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