New Yorkers love their dogs, and many bring them with them just about everywhere. The one place their beloved pooches are not allowed are inside certain stores and all restaurants due to state health regulations. However, the state is rethinking its stance on letting dogs accompany their owners to outdoor eateries. The state senate passed a bill recently that would allow dogs to tag along to outdoor cafes. Now we’re waiting to see if the Assembly bill will be passed and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Most are in favor, but one Assemblyman is trying to ruin all the fun.
If you’ve hung out in New York City, you’ve noticed that dog owners often let their pups rest near their feet when they eat at al fresco restaurants. Many outdoor places allow it, or will turn a blind eye, but they risk losing their licenses under the state’s health code. If this new law was passed, it would take the pressure off these restaurant owners. State Senator Kemp Hannon says of the measure, “It will benefit both [restaurant] owners and patrons. Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a well-known animal lover, adds, “You see how many people have dogs in New York City, and they take their dogs with them in their daily lives. People view their dogs and cats as family members. This is going to allow people to go to brunch with their family.” One other cool point: the law is not a mandate, which means that the restaurant would still hold the power in deciding if they wanted to allow dogs into their outdoor eating areas.
Let’s be honest—people like animals and they love dogs! So the bill has been met with mostly support from happy animal lovers. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way. Assemblyman Richard Gottfried is attempting to curb the bill. His argument: “Some dogs are tall enough that all they would have to do is turn their heads and they would be eating off people’s plates.” Gottfried also argues that the decision the bill would make would be on best left up to individual municipalities. In case you were going to look it up, the average table height is 30 inches, while the average Great Dane’s (seated) height is 35 inches. For a little more perspective, a Golden Retriever typically sits at 23 inches and a German Shepherd sits 27 inches tall.
After hearing about Gottfried’s argument against the measure, Rosenthal said, “It’s an opt-in, so it doesn’t force any restaurants to have diners with their dogs – only if they feel that it’s a good model…and I think most of them will.” Animal activist Jane Velez-Mitchell notes that California passed a similar law and hasn’t had any issues. In face, Velez-Mitchell says, “It was signed into law [there] and it has been a huge success. It’s happening all over the world – and New York is the center of the universe, so I think we should do this here.”
What Do You Think?
We can agree with that! Our furry friends are absolutely part of our families, and if there’s no danger in them hanging out with us at an outdoor eatery, what should stop them from doing so? The bill seems nice and flexible too, so restaurants wouldn’t feel pressured to devote resources to making it work either. Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think!