In some Los Angeles County restaurants, dogs will be made to feel as welcome as their owners under a new policy announced Monday.
Starting immediately, eateries with outdoor dining areas have the option to invite dog owners to chow down with their pets, county officials said.
The policy, while familiar in Europe, has been a long time coming in the Southland due to fears of worms and germs and, perhaps, because of worries that canines will "order" everything on the menu.
"After carefully reviewing possible risk factors that may be associated with allowing pet dogs in outdoor dining areas, we determined policy revisions were possible," said Jonathan E. Fielding, the county's top health officer.
"Guidelines have been established to protect food safety and ensure safety for all patrons," he said. "We urge all dog owners to follow these guidelines in order to provide the best possible dining experience for both people and dogs."
Though it will be up to the restaurants' discretion whether to allow animals in outdoor dining areas, the new policy is sure to be a boon to local eateries and the larger community, said county Supervisor Don Knabe.
The policy is expected to attract business and better serve two-legged and four-legged patrons, Knabe said.
The new policy involves L.A. County restaurants inspected by the Public Health Department. Areas not subject to the policy include Pasadena, Long Beach and Vernon.
According to the guidelines, dogs accompanied by humans may be allowed to enter outdoor dinning areas if the following requirements are met:
- a separate entrance is used where pets do not enter through the food establishment to reach the outdoor dining area;
- no food preparation takes place in the outdoor dining area, including the dispensing of drinks and ice;
- plates, silverware, glasses and bowls are not stored, displayed or pre-set at the outdoor dining area;
- food and water shall be provided only in single-use disposable containers;
- employees are prohibited from having direct contact with pets while on duty;
- pets are not allowed on chairs, seats, benches or tables;
- the outdoor dining area is kept sanitized; and
- the outdoor dining area is not fully enclosed.
In addition, eatery owners are obligated to follow local city ordinances related to sidewalk, public nuisance and sanitation issues, authorities said.
What do you think of the new policy? Tell us in the comments below.