New California State Legislation sponsored by the Social Compassion In Legislation (SCIL) that will make it legal for restaurants to offer areas for people to dine with their pets has been introduced by assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis). AB 1965 would allow dog owners to dine out with their furry friends, by permitting restaurants to voluntarily allow pet dogs in outdoor seating areas under specified conditions, unless a local ordinance determines otherwise.

Dining With Dogs: Proposed New Legislation

"This bill allows willing businesses to serve customers and accommodate their dogs," Yamada said. "Allowing restaurants the flexibility to serve patrons with their canine companions without fear from health authorities saves precious resources for more serious public health concerns."

In 2012, many dog and restaurant owners in Los Angeles advocated for a change to the outright policy of barring dogs - except service dogs - in restaurants. In response, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health gave Los Angeles restaurants with outdoor dining areas the authority under certain conditions to allow dogs in those outside areas. However, state law still prohibits the presence of all animals other than service animals wherever food is served.

"Social Compassion in Legislation is thrilled to sponsor this business and pet friendly legislation," said Judie Mancuso, President of the statewide animal welfare group. "We have received complaints about this outdated state law for years from dog lovers and restaurant owners alike, and greatly appreciate Assemblywoman Yamada addressing the issue. Many restaurants choose to take their chances and allow dogs on their patios, but it remains illegal. We want to support these businesses and encourage more to open up to our canine family members."

AB 1965 will be referred to a policy committee in March. Yamada represents the 4th Assembly District which includes all or parts of Colusa, Lake, Napa, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo Counties.