2020 Leg Session, Featured, Gold Dome, Politics, Sherrie Peif

Senate Bill would allow dogs on restaurant patios, with a few restrictions

DENVER — A bill making its way through the state legislature would allow fido and spot to hang out with their owners the next time they dined out, so long as the restaurant offered an outdoor dining option.

Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, who is also the Majority Whip, is the prime sponsor on the bill that would ease rules on what types of animals are allowed on the outdoor patio of a restaurant. Currently, only service dogs are allowed in food establishments in Colorado, with a few exceptions

Senate Bill 20-078 would allow any retail food establishment to permit patrons to bring a dog on an outdoor dining patio under the following conditions.

  • There is a separate entrance to the patio
  • The dog is not allowed on chairs, benches, seats or other furniture or fixtures.
  • The outdoor area is not used for food or drink preparation.
  • The pet is on a leash or a pet carrier.
  • The business complies with local ordinances related to sidewalks, public nuisances and sanitation.
  • The business complies with any other control measures of the county or district.

Local governments can pass regulations not allowing dogs on patios.

Kerry Donovan

Business owner Calida Troxell said this is something that has been popular in Europe for decades, and although she supports the bill in theory, she said American’s are not quite ready for it.

“Before we welcome animals everywhere just because it feels outdoorsy and groovy, we need to re-focus on obedience and safety,” Troxell said. “Dogs are by nature territorial and defensive. Patios are small places. There is absolutely no health and safety argument against it from a cleanliness aspect, but we need to as a society be ready to normalize comfort muzzles and expect dogs to behave. We have yet to get to that stage, so I would have to say we are not ready for this as a society.”

Troxell, who owns a Fort Collins grooming and boarding facility, has worked with animals for decades. She said even businesses trained to handle multiple dogs at a time experience problems. She worries people don’t fully understand the unforeseen problems this could present.

“People have a thought pattern that less restraint and loose leashes equal happy dogs,” Troxell said. “It is a recipe for disaster, and a restaurant is not a safe place for this experiment. Even veterinarian offices are having to police their reception areas because people won’t keep their dogs under control.”

The bill is scheduled to be heard at 1:30 p.m., Monday before the Senate Business Labor & Technology committee in Senate Committee Room 354.

Donovan did not return requests from Complete Colorado for comment.

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