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May 21, 2015

Health Department Welcomes "Paws on the Patio" Applicants

Pam Davenport - Email

Nicholas Rupp - Email

(SALT LAKE COUNTY)—Now that the spring and summer outdoor dining season is upon us, the Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) is inviting restaurants and cafés with outdoor patios to apply for permission to allow dogs on their patios.

In May 2012, the Salt Lake County Board of Health amended its food sanitation regulation to allow dogs on outdoor dining patios, if the establishment owner applied for permission and met a few simple maintenance and service requirements. As of May 2015, no establishments have applied for that permission.

“The board changed the regulation to allow dogs in certain, controlled situations because we’d heard from residents and restaurant owners that they wanted that option available to them,” said Jeff Oaks, SLCoHD food protection bureau manager. “But no one has taken advantage of the option since it’s been in place.”

Department officials say they know many establishments already allow dogs on their patios, and in coming weeks they’ll be asking those businesses to go through the steps to become officially recognized. Businesses that decline to apply or who do not receive approval will be asked to restrict canine companions from their patio areas.

In order to receive “paws on the patio” approval, dog-friendly food-service businesses need to agree to follow a few simple rules:

  • Establishment must post signs that notify patrons that dogs may be on the premises
  • The patio must have an outdoor entrance so dogs don’t have to go through an interior dining area, and there must be self-closing doors between the patio and interior area
  • The patio must be cleaned with animal-friendly chemicals at the beginning of each shift, or every six hours if the business does not have defined shifts
  • Any dog bathroom “accidents” must be cleaned and the area sanitized within 5 minutes
  • Wait staff and other restaurant food-handlers may not touch any dog
  • Dogs must remain on leash, and must have collars with current license and rabies tag
  • Dogs may not be on tables or chairs
  • Dogs should be given water in a disposable container, but may not eat food (including dog food or treats)
  • Dogs may not have contact with any dishes or utensils

“We support businesses that make this choice,” Oaks continued. “But we need to ensure they’re doing it with cleanliness and safety in mind—that’s the purpose of our regulation.”