Board of Health says it's illegal for dogs to be on restaurant patios, but they don't enforce

Posted at 6:00 AM, Jun 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-08 10:35:46-04

If you’re planning on bringing your dog to your local restaurant patio this summer, know that it is illegal to do so in Cuyahoga County.

“So technically, anywhere on the premises of a licensed facility, including the outdoor areas, animals are prohibited,” said Suzanne Krippel of the Food Protection Unit at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

Krippel said though there’s no need to keep your dogs at home. The county has for decades, chosen not to enforce this rule.

“In general, if an animal is in an outdoor area and it’s not creating a nuisance, we probably don’t bother with it, we maybe just speak to the owner of the facility to ensure that sanitary practices are being followed,” she said.

It’s a summertime tradition for dog owners, having their pup paw at their feet as they enjoy a bite on an outdoor patio. It also drives dog-friendly business to a lot of local restaurants, so the board of health doesn’t want to rain on the parade, but make no mistake, if your pup is causing problems, they’ll step in.

“If it’s creating complaints, if it’s generating a public health nuisance, more than likely we will take action. We’ll go out and investigate, we’ll at the very least talk on the phone with the operator, but many times we go there as a surprise and speak with them and see this situation for ourselves,” said Krippel.

“I’d think that most people that would bring them to a restaurant aren’t going to have them on the table they’re going to have them beside them,” said one customer outside a popular outdoor eating spot in Ohio City.

Restaurant patios in Ohio City will be packed with customers and their pooches all summer. Customers we found walking West 25th Street had no issue with four-legged friends, joining in.

“Everybody keeps them on the leash, right next to them and they never go inside the restaurant where it makes it a hazard,” said one.

The restaurant Town Hall in Ohio City told us they allow dogs only on their patio, not inside the restaurant and when they're drinking water, or eating dog-friendly items from the menu, they are served on disposable plates, so that no customers eat off the same serving ware as animals.