Daily Court Reporter - News Competing dining dog bills advance in Ohio House, Senate
Competing dining dog bills advance in Ohio House, Senate
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
Legislation that would allow dog lovers around the Buckeye State to take their canine friends with them to a favorite outdoor dining spot continue to course through each house of the Ohio Legislature.
Most recently, a senate committee approved an amendment to Senate Bill 182 that would require dogs brought to outdoor dining venues to be vaccinated in accordance with state and local law.
Recent testimony on behalf of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association before senators seated for the Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee highlighted the importance of proper vaccination of dogs in public places.
"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 75 percent of new or emerging infectious diseases in people are spread from animals and 6 out of 10 known infectious diseases in people are spread from animals," said Dr. Liesa Stone, a veterinarian and association president. "Examples of zoonotic diseases - diseases transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa - range in severity from certain forms of the flu virus to ebola.
"Dog specific zoonotic diseases include campylobacter, salmonella and staphylococcus infections and rabies, to name a few."
She said many of the diseases are easily spread through casual contact or unintentional and unknown contact with bodily fluids.
"While the likelihood of a human or animal disease originating on a restaurant patio is low, it could happen," she said. "Safeguards should be in place to allow the directors of the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Agriculture the ability to temporarily restrict the presence of dogs on dining patios during a disease outbreak.
"The restrictions would be temporary and allow the disease source to be identified and the disease contained. Both agencies have veterinarians on staff to specifically monitor animal and human diseases."
Additionally, local health departments should also be provided similar authority, Stone said.
SB 182 generally would allow an owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog to take the dog in an outdoor dining area of a retail food establishment or food service operation.
Another important aspect of the bill noted in recent testimony is that owner of a dining establishment would have the final say in the decision to allow dogs on their patio.
"If enacted, SB 182 would provide restaurant owners with the decision as to whether they wish to allow dogs onto their outside dining areas," Brandon Ogden, president of Small Business Consultants of Ohio LLC, wrote in testimony supporting the bill. "Under current law, restaurateurs could be unknowingly violating state law and face fines and other penalties.
"Small mom-and-pop restaurant owners are more likely to be unaware of current law, or even question why they do not already have the ability to make this decision for themselves and their customers."
He added, to that end, passage of the bill has the potential to boost revenues for small businesses, given that they are more likely to take advantage of the law than large corporate chains."
In the House of Representatives, lawmakers recently passed their version of the bill - House Bill 263 - which now awaits consideration by the Senate.
HB 263 arose from the bill's sponsor hearing from constituents who discovered it was illegal for them to bring their dogs to local restaurant patios despite having done so previously.
The bill would give restaurants and bars the option to allow dogs on their outdoor patios. Dogs will still be prohibited from coming inside the restaurant unless they are a service animal.
According to a press release, under the legislation, sanitary procedures will be put in place for patio dining areas to protect public health, including procedures for cleaning up dog waste and employee hand washing requirements after touching a dog.
Any initial violation of the legislation would result in a 30-day ban of pooches on the patio, while second and third offenses within a year's time would result in six-month and yearlong bans, respectively.
"We're acknowledging the strong human-animal connection," Rep. Laura Lanese, R-Grove City, said of her bill. "It's important for us to send a message that we on Capitol Square are going to step out of the way of businesses on Main Street whenever possible."
Many states already permit restaurant owners to adopt their own pet policy, including California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Georgia, New York, Rhode Island, and Tennessee, legislators have noted, with similar legislation under consideration by the Michigan state legislature.
Sen. William Coley, R-West Chester, is sponsor of SB 182, which had not been scheduled subsequent hearing at time of publication.
Date Published: May 23, 2018