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Feb 16, 2012 01:14 PM

Dogs in Restaurants


I've noticed a trend over the past couple of years of people bringing dogs to restaurants. Just the other night I was out at Cut 432 in Delray for Valentines dinner with my wife and there were two tables next to me with dogs. And no I was not sitting next to two blind people.

For those of you not familiar with Cut 432, it's a high priced prime steak place on atlantic avenue. This is not the outside picnic tables at the neighborhood dive bar.

Personally I think this is ridiculous for one that a nice restaurant would allow people to do this. And two that people leave the house to go out to dinner and think it's ok to bring fido along.

I wouldn't consider myself a dog lover by any means, but I certainly don't hate dogs. I just think their is a time and place for people to spend time with their animals. It's not where I'm dropping $200 on a steak dinner.

Also not trying to pick on Cut 432. The meal was expensive but good. This is something I'm seeing at pretty much all Atlantic Ave restaurants. Where do they draw the line? If I brought a pet rat would it be ok if I put him on the table to take a few nibbles on my bread?

Is this just a delray thing? Or this happening all over south florida? Would be real curious to hear other south florida chowhounders thoughts on this topic?

  1. Pet rat...hehe! Fla. law does not allow pets inside restaurants for health reasons I believe. They are limited to outdoor seating only. This is my understanding of the law.

    4. Q. When can I take my pet dog to a restaurant?

    A. Not until your local government enacts an ordinance permitting dogs in outdoor seating areas of food service establishments and the restaurant obtains the required permit.

    5. Q. What does the law allow?

    A. Local governments are authorized to enact local laws allowing dogs in limited, designated outdoor seating areas of food service establishments. Pet dogs are still prohibited inside food service establishments including traveling through the establishment.

    1. Please make sure you never visit Europe. Dogs in restaurants are as common as knives and forks -- no matter the price.

      If the dog is quiet and well-behaved -- well, that makes them better than some diners.

      11 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        Right on...I've spent a great deal of time in Europe and have had many meals (especially in France) with a dog inde an adjacent table. I can't think of a single occasion when the dog behaved badly. Unfortunately this statement does not always apply to people.

        1. re: josephnl

          Also my experience. Dogs are basically welcome anywhere here, and I have never seen one behave badly in a restaurant, shop, bus/train. I should probably find out how they train them so well, since I wouldn't be able to take mine anywhere in public!

          1. re: josephnl

            I've seen dogs in France sitting AT the table - once with a plate of dinner in front of a dog and a place setting. The owner cut the dog's food into small pieces and fed it from the fork. Oh and the waiters brought all the diners' plates including the dog's covered with a dome.

            1. re: smartie

              Heehee...reminds me of those fancy feast dog food commercials

          2. re: sunshine842

            I think your use of the word "Europe" is a little broad. I lived in Italy for two years and didn't see dogs inside any restaurants- just beside their owners on the occasional outdoor patio. Same for my four months in Barcelona. I spent seven weeks in Romania and Moldova in 2010 and didn't see any dogs in restaurants there either.

            1. re: Jetgirly

              You are right. It's mainly in France where dogs are seen very frequently in all kinds of restaurants from the simplest bistros to the Michelin 3-star temples of haute cuisine.

              1. re: josephnl

                Not much of a shortage in Germany, either -- and not uncommon in England, especially in vacation-ish places where walkers bring their dogs.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  One time my husband and I played golf in Scotland, and the couple we were paired up with were playing with their dog who held the leash in his mouth as he trotted along side of them. It was lovely.

            2. re: sunshine842

              As I read this I am remembering---actually we took a picture and I have it someplace---of a dog in a grocery store in Paris with his forepaws up on the meat counter, ogling the steaks and roasts. People put dogs in their grocery store shopping carts and they sit with their dirty bottoms where you are going to put your food. And they are ALWAYS in restaurants. BTW people in France do not clean up after their dogs so Watch Where You Step. Dogs are friendly and nice but there is such a thing as sanitation.

              1. re: Querencia

                while there are those who do not clean up after their dogs, there are scooper laws in Paris, and most of us most certainly DO clean up after our dogs.

              2. Blind people are not the only people who use service dogs. Just because you don't see a disability, does not mean that the person does not have one. I was not there, so obviously did not see the dogs in question. But service animals are allowed in restaurants. They are not required to wear vests or have special papers. The business owner is only allowed to ask if the animal is a service animal. They are not allowed to ask a person what their disability might be.

                37 Replies
                1. re: cheepcheepcheep

                  I understand people other than blind people use service animals. These clearly weren't.

                  1. re: coffeyucf

                    How do you know? You must be very talented to be able to tell that somebody has epilepsy, or diabetes, or is a survivor of a coma or a stroke, or any of the invisible disabilities a person may have. You cannot tell, unless a person chooses to disclose this information. People with disabilities do not have green hair and glow in the dark skin. And their disability does not have to be obvious to you or even at all visible to you.

                    1. re: cheepcheepcheep

                      Maybe it was because the Miniature Yorkie was in a purse, and not wearing a vest?


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Actually, small dogs are often used as hearing dogs. It's surprising to see but makes sense when you think about it. They're energetic and curious and very pleased with themselves to lead their owners to the source of a sound. I have no idea if this was the case in the OP's scenario, but assistance dogs aren't always the expected labs and retrievers.

                        1. re: Hobbert

                          Hm-m, my hearing IS going, so perhaps I need to put my Bulldogs into training, to help me. The young one DOES hear the telephone, before I do, and usually knows when I have "buzzed through" someone, who has come, just to see her.


                      2. re: cheepcheepcheep

                        I volunteer with the blind so I know something about service animals. The law is exploited by sighted people eg "I get lonesome without my dog therefore my dog is a service animal".

                        1. re: Querencia

                          Blind people aren't the only ones who may benefit from a service dog...

                      3. re: coffeyucf

                        Of course I can't say with 100% certainty but my power of deduction is pretty strong :-) The dogs were all pretty well behaved and didn't bother me at all. It's more noticing how things have changed.

                        1. re: coffeyucf

                          Honestly, this is not trying to be contrary.
                          What leads you to believe they were not service dogs? Breed? Size? Behavior?

                          I am genuinely curious.

                      4. re: cheepcheepcheep

                        Perhaps there are exceptions, but service dogs are generally easily identified either by their harness, a tag, or a vest.

                        Are you certain that a restaurant owner cannot ask for some verification that the dog is indeed a service dog if the dog is not easily recognized as such? Is this a state or federal law? Seems unreasonable.

                        1. re: josephnl

                          Everything cheepcheepcheep said is correct.

                          Wearing the vest certainly makes things easier for the dog and handler, but it is not required. Restaurant owners are also not allowed to ask for verification. The only thing they can ask is "Is that a service dog". They can however ask a customer to leave if their dog is being disruptive. It may seem unreasonable, but it is the law.

                          My husband is currently going through training with his own service dog.

                          ETA: well, my post was pointless, everything was pretty much reiterated further down. Sorry about that!

                          1. re: eastofnevada

                            So, can anyone, who for whatever reason (for example, leaving their dog home alone stresses them out) wishes to bring their dog to whatever restaurant they want, and if asked, just declare that their dog is a service dog, do so? And, the restaurant must allow the dog to stay unless it is disruptive??? Wow...I am so strongly in favor of doing what we all can and should do to accommodate the disabled, but this is really beyond belief.

                            1. re: josephnl

                              there are people who park in handicapped spots and people who say they have food allergies just because they don't like something.

                              I have yet to see the bottom of the pit to which people will sink in order to indulge their self indulgent selves.

                              This makes them assholes of the highest order, but they do it anyway.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                You need a handicapped parking permit to park in the handicapped spots. If you don't have the permit displayed, you can be ticketed. That's a reasonable regulation that does not put any undue burden on people who need the spots. I see no reason why service dog users should not have to show proof of their legitimate entitlement to bring their dog to a place that otherwise does not allow them. This is not an undue burden, but an entirely legitimate means of screening out scammers.

                              2. re: josephnl

                                I honestly don't know. I've never encountered anyone doing that.... I would hope they don't, it would only make it more difficult for people like my husband. It seems crazy to me too, honestly. Before he started the program I assumed that the dogs *had* to wear the vest and have some sort of verification. I personally think they should have to as well to prevent things situations like you're talking about. But that's the current law, I can't help it.

                                1. re: eastofnevada

                                  but then there's the other side of the coin -- it's difficult enough to need a service dog...but then to have the dog wearing what is basically a billboard that shouts Hey! My person is disabled!...a lot of people don't want that kind of extra attention.

                                  A subtle collar tag I could see...but hopefully the dog is properly trained (because yes, service dogs are trained; companion dogs may or may not be) and will be all but invisible anyway...

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    It's a difficult situation either way.

                                    A: No verification and you have people claiming any pet is a service dog, although I haven't met too many pets who are trained to working dog standards.

                                    B: Announce to the world you have/need a service dog. (Although everyone I've met so far keeps the vest on their dog. Specifically the vest, not a harness, because a vest looks more "working dog". If you bring your dog into a restaurant people are going to notice you either way.)

                                    1. re: eastofnevada

                                      why is a vest any bigger statement than a harness? I have yet to see a non-service dog wearing a service harness.

                                      As above -- I can see a collar tag - but I can also totally see why those who need service dogs don't really feel all that inclined to shout it to the world at large that they're not normal.

                                      Much as I'd like to believe differently (see my above post about being yet to find the depths of despicability that people can sink to) - a vest on a working dog could be all the provocation a small-minded jackass might need to be a complete idiot to someone who doesn't have it coming.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        It's just looks, the vest looks more "official". The handlers both said that they have less instances of people trying to pet the dog when the dog is wearing a vest.
                                        Just anecdotes of a few handlers though.

                                        1. re: eastofnevada

                                          I used to work with a blind man whose dog wears a harness when the dog is working. One of the first things he taught me was that the dog is off-limits when he's wearing the harness -- and indeed, the dog's personality was completely different. In the harness, he is all business and completely unperturbed by anything going on around him. The harness is his uniform, and he takes it damned seriously.

                                          Out of the harness? He's a goofy, playful Lab who (true to breed) loves to take flying leaps into lakes and ponds and beg for anything someone will give him. All of us who worked with his companion knew that he wasn't allowed to have people food -- but that didn't stop hope from springing eternal.

                                          If an animal can figure it out, so can humans.

                                          1. re: eastofnevada

                                            There is a young woman who comes into my work with her son and his service dog. On the vest is a very noticeable: "I am working. Do not pet" patch on the vest. She said that they don't go anywhere without the vest because too many people want to pet the dog (it is adorable, although I'm extremely allergic to dogs... I actually have to leave the building while they are there). The vest isn't to announce the disability, it's to announce "Back off".

                                            My mother worked rehab and over all those years I had never met anyone ashamed of their disabilities and wanted to hide the fact that their canine companion was a service dog. It was just part of their lives. So, (although) I haven't read the rest of the thread, I'd assume that the OP was *probably* deducing correctly that they weren't service dogs. However, these days service dogs go beyond the once usual breeds of german shepherds and golden retrievers, so it's hard to determine... I've heard of even these small toy (purse) dogs being used as service dogs.

                                            1. re: velochic

                                              Not *ashamed* of their disabilities -- not wanting them to become a barrier or an immediate prejudice -- which happens all too often, sadly. I can completely understand the sentiment of wanting someone to see THEM, not their disability or their service animal.

                                              (when dining with my former colleague, it was not unusual for someone to ask "and what would he like" -- to which any of us with him unfailingly answered -- I don't know, why don't you ask HIM? It wasn't intentional, but the folks I've known who require service dogs don't want to incur any more of that type of behaviour than necessary - they get enough of it as it is)

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                If you have a disability bad enough to require special parking or a service dog, the last thing you care about is what anyone else thinks. Believe me!

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  Not anyone I've ever known.

                                                  Not calling you a liar by any means -- but that has not ever been my experience.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    I only have my husband's recent experience (which of course I share) so guess I shouldn't generalize. But the rest of the world has ceased to be important to us, as we to them. I can't imagine having such a thin skin and getting through the day, what with all our bigger problems.

                                                    I know my Mom wouldn't be seen without her handicapped tag, bet she'd LOVE a service dog! Good idea for her next birthday.....

                                                    1. re: coll

                                                      maybe it changes over time as a disability becomes less a new and at times, I'm sure, seeming insurmountable challenge to something that's just a part of what and what you are. -- my former colleague said that he prefers to be the capable guy who just happens to be blind, rather than the BLIND GUY who's very capable.

                                                      It's subtle wording, but it's a big difference.

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        I really wish our day of not remembering would get here soon!

                                                        In the meanwhile, I'm glad to have learned not to worry about what other people think, otherwise we'd never leave the house. His handicap is very obvious but your fear of people being jackasses hasn't happened to us yet, I take him everywhere and it's amazing how many people rush to help when they see us with the wheelchair. Some people ignore us and don't hold the door, but nothing terrible. Maybe if we could hide it, we would. It's just that I know people who have their doctors write prescriptions for service dogs, when it's just a pet. Or park in handicapped because they had something wrong 10 years ago and kept the tag. Just hope karma doesn't bite them on the ass!

                                                        1. re: coll

                                                          I hope karma bites them long and hard. The doctors, too -- for enabling it.

                                        2. re: eastofnevada

                                          I am handicapped and have a blue placard that I must display when I park in a handicapped parking space. I don't think twice about the fact that others seeing me exit my car correctly assume I have a disability.

                                          Whether or not a service dog is wearing an obvious coat or not, anyone seeing that animal brought inside a restaurant in the US would reasonably assume that the animal is a service dog. Requiring a service animal to be registered as such and to wear a special tag or collar seems like a no-brainer to prevent abuse. Much like the blue parking placard, this is the obvious way of controlling the situation, and I can see no reason why anyone should find this objectionable.

                                2. re: josephnl

                                  I've seen one person with service minature horses - no larger than a golden retriever - but that was definitely a shock to walk in on in a public restroom. I wonder how that would be treated in a restaurant.

                                  1. re: cresyd

                                    heh -- that would be truly surreal in a restroom -- I'd have been looking for the hidden camera!

                                    But as a service animal, they are given free access anywhere their person goes.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      It was when I was on vacation and had been told that someone staying where we were had a service horse and all the benefits that a seeing-eye horse provides over a dog (mostly that they are able to remain in service longer, shorter training time, etc) - so it wasn't as much of a shock as if I'd been totally unaware.

                                      I would hope that this horse would have all such access - but I still think seeing a horse in a fine dining establishment would be a shock. I'm not bothered by behaved dogs in restaurants, and in theory would think the horse would have the right to be there. But it'd be a weird first moment.

                                      1. re: cresyd

                                        I love animals and i take my dog whenever i can and i pick up after her. I have never seen anyone pick up after a horse so that could be a problem.

                                        1. re: Alica

                                          I haven't either, but then I've never seen someone using a horse as a companion animal, nor taking horse for walk down a city sidewalk, either.

                                          It's pretty safe to assume that the training association that raises and trains the horses to be companion animals have already figure this out...come to think of it, I've never seen a companion animal actually stop to do his/her business while working, either.

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            They definitely do, and my blind friend cleans up after his as well.

                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              (I figured they do -- and double respect, because that cannot be an easy task to learn when you can't see what you're doing! -- just realized that I've never seen it. My blind ex-colleague just let his loose when the dog wasn't needed -- the dog would go outside and return when he was done with his constitutional. We taught at a high school that was next to a fallow field - the dog visited the field.)

                                    2. re: cresyd

                                      I think I would die happy after seeing that!

                                3. More and more people are claiming their pets are 'service animals,' providing the owner with assistance of some sort. I'm not familiar with this from a restaurant perspective, but from a condo perspective.

                                  Any animal the owner declares to be a 'service animal' must be allowed to accompany the owner wherever (s)he wishes to take it, regardless of local ordinances, rules or regulations.

                                  As I understand it, federal ADA regulations do not permit you to ask what the disability is that the animal is assisting with, nor is there a universally accepted definition of exactly what a 'service animal' is.

                                  If Muffy makes me happy, I can take her anywhere I want -- apparently. What restaurant would tell me I can't bring Muffy to their restaurant, if I threaten them with a Federal ADA lawsuit if they say something to me?

                                  1. Coincidentally, there was an article in today's SF Chronicle on the phenomenon of the proliferation of "service" animals. In California, service dogs must were an official tag identifying them as such.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: GH1618

                                      Thanks for this clarification. I can't believe that anyone can claim that any accompanying dog is service dog when entering a restaurant, and the restaurant can't ask for some verification.

                                      1. re: josephnl

                                        They cannot ask for verification. It is voluntary for dogs to wear vests, harnesses, whatever, just so other people can identify a service dog. Some states may ask for special tags, but these tags are not licesences or anything special. Anyone can buy a tag. Pay a price, get a tag. The ADA is a federal law, which supersedes state laws.

                                        However, to your original concern, all service animals are expected to have manners and be trained to not bother other people (barking, begging, whatever .) A business owner may ask the person with an unruly or dangerous dog to leave, even if they have identified themselves as a service dog.

                                      2. re: GH1618

                                        Unfortunately, it has gotten out of control. This is one of those laws that has become a little too lenient. I hope someone changes it so that the person at least has to carry papers identifying the animal as a service dog. Or snake or iguana etc...

                                        1. re: Missmoo

                                          I don't agree, the behaviour of a dog will verify whether it's in fact a service dog and not a spoiled pet.

                                          1. re: hsk

                                            Not always. Sometimes the spoiled pet is the service dog. Not all "service dogs" are trained to be service dogs.

                                            I just want the dog to be out of the way and quiet. And I would prefer the owner not make kissy faces at it or use baby talk.

                                          2. re: Missmoo

                                            Exactly... I'm sure there are plenty of people who benefit from service dogs. Though my guess is most people are just bringing their dogs because they feel entitled.