GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Texas restaurants may soon welcome dogs in outdoor dining areas under a new state law that allows patrons to bring their furry companions at a business' discretion.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law last week that changed the state's past stance on dogs in dining areas, the Galveston County Daily News reported.
Texas health code previously prohibited dogs from locations where food is served and prepared. Some restaurants allowed dogs on their patios before the new law was passed because counties and cities could skirt the law by enacting their own rules, such as requiring permits or extra inspections.
Under the new rules, restaurants can allow dogs in outdoor dining areas if they post signage, don't allow dogs to enter the business' interior, require customers to keep their dog on a leash and don't prepare any food in the outdoor area.
Mosquito Cafe in Galveston had already allowed customers to bring their dogs onto its patio area, but now the restaurant will need to put up signs alerting diners of the pets.
James Clark, the eatery's director of operations, said they're working on coming into compliance with the new law.
Clark said the eatery hasn't ever had a bad experience with allowing dogs on the property. "Pet owners and other patrons alike are usually excited to see dogs here, and they're happy to have the opportunity to bring them along," Clark said.
The new law also prohibits municipalities from adopting or enforcing ordinances or rules that impose any extra requirements on restaurants. Galveston officials passed an ordinance earlier this year that covered the state's requirements and took them several steps further, requiring dogs to have rabies tags and restaurants to keep outdoor areas free of dog hair and other debris.
It's unclear whether the city's ordinance will be enforceable under the new law.
Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, http://www.galvnews.com