While most of us were rejoicing that canine companions may soon be able to join us outdoors over a few beers, the city agency responsible for grading restaurants still wants everyone to leave their dogs at home. The Department of Health has spoken out in opposition of the legislation in Albany that would allow dogs in outdoor sections of bars and restaurants, citing risks to all parties involved.
"The Health Department loves all dogs, but just not at restaurants where they can create a risk to the health and safety of diners, restaurant workers and other dogs," a spokesperson told the Daily News. Risk of death by cuteness? We'll take that risk.
Though typically setting their sights on other types of critters, the DOH has never approved of animals in bars, and have levied hefty fines against proprietors who turn a blind eye to the errant pooch or two. But does the presence of a dog really lead to less sanitary conditions? According to the bill, "the overall public health risk of pet dogs in outdoor dining areas is very low as long as safety, sanitation and hygiene practices are enforced."
The DOH countered this claim via email this morning. "Dogs in restaurants can create unsanitary conditions," explained spokesperson Christopher Miller. Further, "their presence outdoors at sidewalk cafes on crowded sidewalks with pedestrians, strollers, children and other dogs passing by, often with no barrier separating tables from sidewalks invites opportunity for negative interactions and bites."
With or without the agency's approval, the bill is expected to pass in tomorrow's Assembly vote, leaving it down to Governor Cuomo to sign into practice. Even so, it won't be required that dogs—other than service animals—be welcome everywhere. "One of the great things about the bill is that it's not a mandate," explained Linda Rosenthal, the bill's champion in the Assembly. "They don't have to do it. They can choose to do it."