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Pooch-Friendly Cafe Patios Now Ok In L.A. County

Dog-Restaurant-Week1There’s finally a place at the floor next to the table for your pooch, according to a new ruling from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Prompted by an inquiry from a Lazy Dog Café employee in Cerritos to diner – and Supervisor – Don Knabe, the regulations which had made it illegal for dogs and their owners to relax on restaurant patios were examined and revised to allow for a little more canine companionship.


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Knabe called the revisions a boon to small businesses who will be able to attract more two-legged and four-legged customers.

Valencia Lazy Dog Café manager Greg Seipel said that for the last two months, the rules have relaxed a little at their restaurant and said that they see an average of three or four dogs a day.

“As long as we follow the rules, they can be there,” Seipel said. “We haven’t advertised that the dogs can come back, but now that everyone knows about it, we’ll probably have a lot of dogs here this weekend.”

Seipel said that employees are not allowed to pet customer’s dogs and feeding from the table is discouraged. Pets are served in separate, disposable dishes.

The revisions came after Los Angeles County Environmental Health assessed the risk factor of allowing dogs in the outdoor dining areas and determined that there was no threat to public health if a set of guidelines were met. Seipel said that their employees are very aware of the regulations and thinks they’re reasonable for a good dining experience for all of their customers.

“Many dog and restaurant owners advocated for this policy change and we are pleased to support both residents and business owners with this opportunity," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. “Guidelines have been established to protect food safety and ensure safety for all patrons.”

The new policy goes into effect immediately in Los Angeles County restaurants that are inspected by Public Health; areas not subject to this policy are Pasadena, Long Beach and Vernon.

Regulations include:

  • A separate entrance where pets enter the patio without going through the food establishment.
  • No food preparation is allowed in the outdoor dining area, including dispensing/mixing of drinks and ice.
  • Customer multi-use or reusable utensils such as plates, silverware, glasses and bowls may not be stored, displayed or pre-set in the outdoor area.
  • Food and water served to pets shall only be in single-use disposable containers.
  • Employees are prohibited from having direct contact with pets while on duty, including petting the dogs.
  • Pets are not allowed on chairs, seats, benches and tables.
  • The outdoor dining area shall be maintained clean.
  • In cases of excrement or other bodily fluids (urine, saliva, vomit), employees shall immediately clean and sanitize the affected areas.
  • The outdoor dining area shall not be fully enclosed (full enclosure would be considered part of the interior area of the facility).

Business operators must still comply with local ordinances related to sidewalks, public nuisance and sanitation issues.