Current law prohibits dogs from entering food establishments, new bill would provide guidelines

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Many California diners would be surprised to know that it is actually illegal to dine with their dogs , even if they are seated at an outdoor restaurant patio.

Current state law prohibits live animals from entering a food facility due to contamination concerns.

Many restaurants in town, including the Village Grill, are already pet friendly.

"Inspectors will not cite food establishments if there are dogs in an outdoor area as long as they can access through a separate entrance and the outdoor dining area is maintained clean," said Donna Fenton, Kern County Environmental Health.

But California lawmakers are trying to bring state law into line with dog friendly restaurants with a bill that would establish health guidelines for dining dogs. Pet dogs could not enter a restaurant but could be brought through a separate patio entrance.

"While there are no specific exemptions for pets in outdoor areas, the code is somewhat vague and pets can be considered OK if they do not pose a health risk," said Fenton.

Under the proposed legislation, restaurants could not store food or utensils on dog friendly patios, dogs would not be allowed on any patio furniture, and employees would not be allowed to touch the pets while working. The bill would not place any restrictions on service animals.

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