It’s a dog’s breakfast. New York lawmakers are considering a law that would allow people to bring their dogs along to restaurants with open dining areas.
Cocker spaniels, french bulldogs and golden retrievers might soon be among your brunch companions, if the law gets approved.
Though you might already notice some cafes and restaurants allowing dogs to take up a spot next to their owners if they’re dining at tables on the pavement, this is not legal at the moment. The new legislation would officially make it legal for restaurants to allow dogs in all open areas — courtyards, gardens, and any other outdoor seating.
It wouldn’t mean that restaurants would necessarily allow canines to join their humans — it is an opt-in bill — but it removes the barriers for restaurants which might gain from having more flexible rules about dogs.
In neighborhoods like Williamsburg, the East Village and the Upper West Side, there are plenty of dog owners who might enjoy bringing their pooches to the party.
"I am a dog owner. I think it's completely normal to be able to hang out with my dog at restaurants, it should be that way," said Gunther Allspach, from Brooklyn.
The bill passed the Senate with no opposition — the legislator who introduced it, Senator Kemp Hannon of Long Island, said it could benefit businesses and make life easier for pet owners.
"My wife and I are very excited to eat out with our dogs," said Phil Lee, 36, from Brooklyn. "We have two dogs ... Every little step that makes it a little bit more dog friendly makes us more excited. We have dogs named Willy who is four and Annie who we just adopted from Social Tees New York."
Though the state senate passed the bill, it may have a tougher time in the assembly. The Assembly Health Committee’s chairman, Richard Gottfried, has already expressed some concern about the law.
“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,” he told the New York Post. Gottfried represents the Upper West Side.
It’s a concern shared by others who frequent New York City’s eating establishments.
“I think I would want to know they won’t come near me,” said Emma James, 23, who said she goes to the cafes in the Lower East Side and East Village for brunches and dinners on a weekly basis.
She said the idea of having a dog sitting right next to her table while she eats is definitely uncomfortable.
The bill specifies that the restaurants would need a separate entrance through which dogs and their owners could come and go to outdoor areas — to avoid them passing through indoor dining or food preparation parts of the restaurant.
Dogs would also not be allowed on seats, benches, chairs or other fixtures.
It also specifically says that any food or drink for the pets must be served in single-use disposable containers, not communal or permanent bowls.
Some restaurant-goers think the legislation would be fine, as long as there are limits.
"I am not a dog owner. I don't mind dogs being in outdoor restaurant areas, as long as it's specific," said Renee Hickerson, from the Upper East Side. "I don't think they should be allowed in every single garden area, but there should be areas that are designated specifically for dogs. If I went out to eat with my niece and I knew the place allowed dogs, I would be totally fine with it because I would know what to expect."
California passed a similar law just last year, allowing owners to take their dogs to restaurants with them. In L.A., it’s been legal since 2012 for restaurants to allow dogs in outdoor areas.
The next important step will be for the Assembly to vote on the bill — if it is passed there, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be left with the final decision on whether canine companions should be allowed.