Californians Will Legally Be Able to Take Dogs to Dinner in 2015

While it may come as a surprise to some, California currently bans dogs and other animals from all restaurants, inside or out. Of course, this ban has long been ignored by many restaurants and their patrons, and it is not uncommon to see dogs-both big and little-resting alongside their owners at many San Francisco area restaurants. However, as of January 1, 2015, California pooches will be legally allowed to visit outdoor areas if certain conditions are met.

Governor Brown Signs Law Allowing Dogs To Legally Be Present On Outdoor Patios

On August 21st, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1965, which gives restaurants the option to allow pet dogs in their outdoor seating areas under specified conditions unless a local ordinance determines otherwise.

AB 1965 does not mandate that restaurants allow dogs on their patios, but it makes the practice permissible as long as basic health standards and local ordinances are followed. Under the law as it exists until January 1st, restaurant owners who allow dogs on their patios can be subject to a citation or lawsuit.

Specifically, AB 1965 amends Section 114259.5(d) of the California Health and Safety Code to provide that pet dogs may be allowed in an outdoor dining area if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

1. the owner of the food facility elects or chooses to allow pet dogs in its outdoor dining area 2. a separate outdoor entrance is present where pet dogs can enter without going through the interior/main food establishment to reach the outdoor dining area 3. the pet dogs are not allowed on chairs, benches, seats, or other fixtures 4. the outdoor dining area is not used for food or drink preparation or storage of food preparation utensils. (However, wait staff may refill a beverage class in the outdoor dining area from a pitcher or other container.)
5. food and water provided to the pet dog may only be provided in single-use, disposable containers 6. food employees are prohibited from having direct contact with pet dogs while on duty. In the event a food employee has contact with a dog, he or she must wash his or her hands before returning to work.
7. the outdoor dining area must be kept clean and free from excrement or other bodily fluids, and sanitized as necessary.
8. The pet dog must be kept on a leash or confined in a carrier, and be under the control of the owner at all times.
9. The restaurant owner must ensure that local ordinances regarding sidewalks, public nuisance, and sanitation are followed.

Owners Are Liable For Bites And Other Misbehavior That Causes Injuries

As summarized by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) who introduced the dining with doggies bill, under the new law, “it will soon be legal to take your beagle with you to dinner. With Governor Brown’s signature, restaurateurs in California will see more businesses catering to their customers and the canine companions they love. I wish everyone ‘bone-appetit.” (Her pun clearly intended.)

And while many people will be happy to know that their dogs can now legally join them on restaurant patios, it is important for dog owners to remember that they are liable for any injuries caused by their pooches’ misbehavior. This is because California law imposes strict liability on pet owners for the wrongdoings of their dogs. This means that owners are responsible if their dog bites a person or another dog on the patio. Owners can also be held liable if their dog knocks someone down or trips someone, and that person is injured as a result of the dog’s actions. Depending on the facts, people other than the dog’s owner also may be held responsible for the dog’s misbehavior.

San Francisco Legal Help For Dog Bite Injuries

Every year, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs and almost one in five of those (or about 885,000) require medical attention, including more than 27,000 who require reconstructive surgery.

If you have questions about a dog bite injury, call the San Francisco area personal injury lawyers at Brod Law Firm at (800) 427- 7020 or use our online contact form for immediate help with your legal problem.