Dogs on Restaurant Patios

Chad Huffines of Mansfield, Texas, cradles his dog as he and his family order food on the patio at a downtown restaurant in Galveston on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

State Sen. Kelly Hancock’s bill, SB 476, which would allow a food service establishment to permit a customer to be accompanied by a dog in an outdoor dining area, is another example of legislative intrusion into matters best left to locally elected officials.

Hancock’s bill is the flip side of several bills that came up during the 2017 legislative session, the main effect of which was to remove oversight authority from city councils and commissions and consolidate that power into fewer hands that meet less often and much farther from the people most affected.

Instead of telling locals what they can’t do — ban plastic bags or attempt to protect trees, for example — this bill would mandate from afar what they must do.

Aside from being an example of legislative overreach, the bill is just unnecessary, as evidenced by the bill’s own origins. Hancock modeled his state-wide bill after Austin regulations, which he called “relatively permissive.”

So, as it stands now, a local government such as the Austin City Council already can draft a relatively permissive, or, we can safely assume, relatively restrictive ordinance allowing dogs to enter eating establishments, even though Texas health codes generally prohibit doing so.

Hancock’s bill, then, is a solution out looking for a problem.

Unless Texas lawmakers want to assume legislative, and financial, responsibility for every other interface between humans and others — rats, roaches, bats, bedbugs, fleas and mosquitoes included, they should stay out of this one.

Austin is the wrong place to debate the rights of and restrictions on dog owners, but those rights and restrictions make for good discussions to have locally, and Galveston residents might soon have that opportunity.

Galveston District 2 Councilman Craig Brown said he intended to bring a local ordinance to the city council later this month that would allow restaurant operators to decide whether dogs are allowed to be on their properties.

“I think being a tourist city and having so many more outdoor patios and things like that, I think it makes sense,” Brown said.

It’s hard to see enough downside to warrant an outright ban on allowing dogs to accompany their owners on restaurant patios. It seems reasonable to allow business owners to make that decision based on their own clientele.

What’s clear is this will be a hot topic of discussion, and that discussion should happen here, not in Austin.

We urge Brown to bring his ordinance forward and let the local debate begin.

• Michael A. Smith

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206;

(18) comments

Jarvis Buckley

Folks that own service dogs should be allowed into any establishment open to the public. Just my opinion

Katherine Pollock

Service dogs have always been allowed in businesses. But I agree that each establishment should be able to decide. But what happens when you have a few dog fights? I guess people allergic to dogs will start complaining next. You can never make everyone happy. We'll see how it goes.

Christopher Fluke

Federal law allows that already and supersedes any local laws.

Bailey Jones

It's a consistent irony in Austin that they complain about federal overreach while constantly intruding into local government.

Carlos Ponce

Text of SB 476:
REQUIREMENTS FOR DOGS IN OUTDOOR DINING AREAS; MUNICIPAL PREEMPTION. (a) A food service establishment may permit a customer to be accompanied by a dog in an outdoor dining area if:
(1) the establishment posts a sign in a conspicuous location in the area stating that dogs are permitted;
(2) the customer and dog access the area directly from the exterior of the establishment;
(3) the dog does not enter the interior of the establishment;
(4) the customer keeps the dog on a leash and controls the dog;
(5) the customer does not allow the dog on a seat, table, countertop, or similar surface; and
(6) in the area, the establishment does not:
(A) prepare food; or
(B) permit open food other than food that is being served to a customer.

Christopher Fluke

Hope they pass it.

margo holst

Now that dogs are more popular than children there is a subset of population who quite frankly don't like dogs and often avoid them. There are some that are deathly afraid of them, others allergic, others just don't like them for multiple reasons from hair to smell. Sometimes they are owners of an establishment and each should be able to control their business just as some have a no children policies. DJ Kava, Crystal Beach/Beamont.

Bailey Jones

I feel the same way about children.

George Croix

Insert the word 'gun' for dog, and then see how fast that annoyance at 'outside control' evaporates for a lot of people.....[wink][smile][beam]

Anyway, the solution for the dog in places of business issue seems to me as simple as the carrying of weapons solution is.
Have in any legislation a provision for the owner of the establishment to simply post a sign at the entrance(s) prohibiting animals (the 4 legged ones) in his/her place of business. NO exceptions except for actual service animals.
Problem solved.
The don't want animals eating with me folks can eat in peace.
The ones who feel compelled to take their pets everywhere can go to another establishment.
The one who truly must have an animal to physically function are accommodated.

Don't NEED any statewide legislation? Leave it up to locals to decide.
For just this, or all things?
Be careful what you wish might find yourself in jail in Tomball for what Galveston says is just fine.....
Commonality of intent would seem to be useful for such things as these except when the issue involves things specific to one area, and food serving establishments do not fit that.....

Steve Fouga

It should be up to the establishments to decide.

I guess I'm weird in that I REALLY like dogs, yet REALLY don't want them around me when I'm eating. That said, I've never been bothered by a dog in those establishments where they are allowed.

Jim Forsythe

Steve, I really like the way Christie plays. Beside being a very good player, she seems happy playing.
2017 Int'l Fingerstyle Guitar Champion - Christie Lenée Performs "Song for Michael Pukac"
Another one I like.
An electrifying acoustic guitar performance | Rodrigo y Gabriela

If you play a Blackberry Smoke song, you may want to play other songs by them.
Blackberry Smoke - Sunrise in Texas (Official Video)

Out of the two JJ Grey & Mofro songs below, I like the River the best.
JJ Grey & Mofro - The Sun Is Shining Down

This River

Steve Fouga

Thanks, Jim. Some more great ones! You've gotten me totally hooked on Blackberry Smoke.

Try these. The first is a 2017 Billboard #1 tune by Marshmello and DJ Khalid. The second is our son's cover of the same song, just released to YouTube, iTunes and Spotify. I'm biased but I like the remake better!

Jim Forsythe

Steve, check the link for your sons cover, as it does not take me to it.

Steve Fouga

Harrumph. Does it take you anywhere? Maybe it takes you to the right YouTube, but the title is confusing. It should say: Silence - Marshmello ft. Khalid (Spiritual Pop Punk EDM Cover) DanielwiththeBalance. If it doesn't, I'll tell him he needs to fix something.

Jim Forsythe

Steve, I was able to get it at which is different than
You are wrong as to his being better because you are is father. His is better, because he is better.
The reason I liked it better because it sounded real and not manufactured like the other one.
The music industry has room for both, some people like Marshmello and DJ Khalid, and some do not.
What I also liked is he did not try a copy their style.

The one he did below I like, because it reminds me of some of the stuff that the Beatles did
DanielwiththeBalance - Transcend (Original Mix)

Steve Fouga

Thanks for the kind words, Jim. I have no idea why one link works and the other doesn't. Doesn't matter; you were able to find it.

Chuck DiFalco

"It's a consistent irony in Austin that they complain about federal overreach while constantly intruding into local government." Two opposable thumbs up.

Steve Fouga

LOL! Ditto... [thumbup][thumbup]

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