Dog owners might soon be able to dine al fresco with their canine companion if a proposed health rule for restaurants moves forward.
Salt Lake County Councilor Arlyn Bradshaw, a proponent of walkable communities, has asked the Salt Lake Valley Board of Health to investigate the possibility of allowing dogs on outdoor patios at eateries. Restaurant owners would decide whether they want to offer the option.
The board discussed the proposal at its monthly meeting Thursday. A "Paws on the Patio" policy is expected to be open for public comment over the next few weeks.
Bradshaw explained that the regulation change could be a boon to businesses although interest may be limited. As the rules stand now, people walking their dogs to festivals or through downtown are limited in where they can stop.
"If they want to patronize local restaurants on the way, they can't if they have their dog with them," he said.
A national movement over the past few years has led some cities, such as Houston, to permit dogs on restaurant patios. Bradshaw, who owns three dogs, believes the current patio ban in Salt Lake County is likely in place statewide.
For the past several years, Log Haven Restaurant in Mill Creek Canyon has invited dogs to eat beef kabobs and other canine entrees during the warmer months while their human companion dines next to them although "dog days" take place in their amphitheater behind the restaurant, not their patio.
"We were hoping to capture people who hike with their dog after work to come in for dinner," said Ian Campbell, general manager. "It's been quite successful."
He predicts that a change in rules for patio dining would attract more business from dog owners at other restaurants.
Sam Granato, a health board member who owns an Italian food business in Salt Lake City, agrees. He said he'd like to hear back from the restaurant community as the proposal evolves.
"If we could get the right state regulations and county regulations, I would be supportive," said Granato. "Because there's a lot of dog lovers out there."
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Official public comment is slated to begin later this month. Go to http://www.slvhealth.org for more information.