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Law could put dogs back in outdoor eateries and patrons at risk

Is a law that currently bans dogs from the patios of bars and restaurants and the new legislation designed to reverse that an issue of the need to protect the public's health versus the public's will?

In years past, it was pretty common to see dogs on the outside patios and seating areas of bars and restaurants during good weather.

However, the Ohio Health Department issued notices this spring reminding businesses that dogs weren't welcome in seating areas where human drinks and food are served -- even if dogs had been accommodated at a particular business for years.

This has been a serious bone of contention between the Health Department, the businesses affected and their displeased customers.

The business owners say that dog owners end up being forced to choose, particularly on weeknights, whether they want to spend time with their canine pals or time unwinding over a drink and some dinner. Most owners will choose to stay home with their pets after a long day at work, just so they don't have to leave their buddies alone again.

The business owners and their customers aren't the only people complaining. Various non-profit agencies that exist to benefit abused or abandoned dogs host their charity events at these very same restaurants and bars from which the dogs are now banned. Hosting the rescued dogs on hand to connect with people not only encourages donations -- it encourages adoptions -- so many dogs are missing out on potential new homes.

In general, it seems like Ohioans would prefer to see dogs back on the patios -- thousands of individuals and numerous business associations have signed petitions in support of a bill that would give restaurant and bar owners a choice of whether to allow dogs or not -- just as they always have.

However, is allowing the dogs back into the public setting a good idea? The law was put into place to protect consumers from the sanitary problems that dogs can create when around human food -- and to protect consumers from being bitten. Not everyone's dogs are as well-trained or socialized as their owners think.

For now, the issue is up in the air. However, if the new law passes, Ohioans need to remember that owners are strictly liable for dog bite injuries. If one happens, an attorney can help you learn more about your legal options. t an animal bite attorney for advice as soon as possible.

Source: radio.WOSU.org, "Raise The Woof: Businesses Rally Behind Bill Allowing Pups On Patios," Jo Ingles, Aug. 10, 2017

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