Texas senate passes bill to allow dogs in outdoor dining area of restaurants

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Pets are family anyway, so you might as well be able to take them out to eat too, right?

On Tuesday, the Texas Senate passed S.B. 476, which would allow patrons to bring their dogs to outdoor dining areas.

Republican Sen. Kelly Hancock introduced the bill. It would require businesses to post a visible sign stating that dogs are allowed, the customer and dog access area must be directly from the exterior of the establishment, and the dog wouldn't be allowed to come inside at any point to prevent possible food contamination.

Customers would also have to keep their pets on a leash and control them, and the dog would not be allowed on a seat, table, countertop or similar surface.

Dogs are welcome in the patio area as long as food isn't prepared there.

The bill acknowledges that some establishments already allow dogs in some patio or sidewalk seating areas but tries to account for some of what the bill calls "onerous restrictions" on the businesses such as periodic fees and extra inspections.

It will still be up to the business to decide whether or not to allow dogs on the premises.

Over the last several years, dog-friendly dining options have grown more popular.

Houston has had a dog park ordinance since 2010. Spots where dog lovers can take their beloved four-legged friends on the patio include Barnaby's Cafes, FM Kitchen and Bar and many more. Click here for the full list of Houston restaurants.

If S.B. 476 makes it into law, it would go into effect Sept. 1, 2019.

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