Senate approves O’Brien’s bill to allow dogs on restaurant patios

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — Restaurant patrons would be allowed to bring their dogs with them while dining outdoors at Michigan restaurants under a bill approved by the state Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 727, sponsored by Senator Margaret O’Brien, would expand an existing law allowing service dogs in restaurants to allow dogs to accompany pet owners at participating restaurants’ outdoor dining areas.

“Michiganders love their pets,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Dogs have become important members of the family. With so many pet-friendly amenities like dog parks and hotels that accept dogs, it is reasonable to allow restaurants to decide if dogs are allowed on their outdoor patios.”

The bill requires restaurants wishing to participate to notify the local health department prior to serving customers with dogs. Establishments would need to provide specific outdoor dining areas for patrons bringing their dogs. Restaurants would also be able to limit the size and type of dogs allowed, and they would be able to deny or eject a customer and dog at its discretion.

Dogs would not be allowed to pass through an establishment’s interior to get to the dog-dining area, and dogs would not be permitted on an owner’s lap or on seating and dining surfaces.

Restaurants would also be required to keep the dog-dining area clean of dog waste and properly and routinely disinfect the area as needed. Any dog waste would need to be disposed of daily in a covered waste receptacle located outside of the establishment, and employees who come into contact with a dog or dog would need to wash themselves before returning to work.

This bill does not change the rights or laws of people with service dogs. Earlier this year, Gov. Snyder signed legislation sponsored by O’Brien ensuring service dogs can accompany their owners.

“Having the ability to bring our dogs when going out to eat would make a Pure Michigan day out with family or friends that much more enjoyable,” O’Brien said.

SB 727 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.