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Dog-Friendly Dining Is Getting a Shorter Leash

An anonymous complaint about a dog in a local bar has led to a deeper look at where dogs can and can't go, and how many businesses are in compliance with the city's outdoor dog dining program.

Dogs are everywhere in Dunedin, from the walls to the sidewalks to the outdoor cafes. But have they been given too long a leash?

An  led to a visit from the state Department of Health.

State law prohibits dogs in food service establishments, with the exception of service dogs. Last year, Dunedin passed an ordinance that allows dogs in designated outdoor areas. The ordinance requires businesses to apply for a permit before they can offer dog-friendly dining.

Greg Rice, Dunedin's director of planning and development, said that he looked through the city code and could not find anything permitting dogs inside businesses, except for service dogs. Food service establishments with an outdoor dining area can apply for a permit to allow dogs outside, he said.

However, when Rice checked city records for dog dining permits, he found only two establishments that have permits:  and , he said.

Rice said he was not aware how few Dunedin businesses had applied for dog dining permits. Now, he says, code enforcement will have to take action to get local businesses into compliance with the city's dog dining ordinance.

How to get a dog dining permit

Businesses can pick up the dog dining permit application at the city's Planning and Development Department offices, on the second floor of  The application details all of the requirements for dog dining. The annual permit fee is $75.

When a business applies for outdoor dog dining, it must follow these regulations:

  • Signage must designate the area as available for customers with dogs.
  • The dog dining area must be accessible from outside the business (cannot cut through a restaurant to get to the dog dining area).
  • Hand sanitizer must be available at all tables.
  • Dogs are not allowed on chairs or tables.

What qualifies as a 'food service establishment'?

The city ordinance defines a public food service establishment as "eating and drinking establishments and sidewalk cafes." Rice said any businesses with an outdoor dining area can apply for the dog dining permit.

The state Department of Business and Professional Regulation confirmed that "local governments are authorized to enact local laws allowing dogs in limited, designated outdoor seating areas of food service establishments." 

"Pet dogs are still prohibited inside food service establishments including traveling through the establishment," Sandi Copes Poreda, the department's director of communications, wrote in an email.
 
Bars that serve food fall under the definition of food service establishments, Poreda wrote. The state's dog dining rules for bars that do not serve food are less clear. The state Department of Health in Tallahassee did not respond to an email for comment on that issue in time for this article.

Cecilia January 25, 2012 at 09:14 PM
The "tipster" should be thoroughly and absolutely ashamed of him or herself. There was no reason to have done this other than just plain being mean. I have no idea who did it, and frankly I don't want to know. But SHAME ON YOU, whoever you are. How on earth can you get joy from making others miserable? That is not happiness, that is misery and spite and you must be filled with both - SHAME ON YOU - SHAME ON YOU - SHAME ON YOU for trying take joy from others for no reason other than nastiness. SHAME ON YOU!
Richard Caterino January 25, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Snowbirds like to complain about everything.
Heidiho January 26, 2012 at 01:22 AM
I am truely amazed that someone could possibly be bothered and then complain about such an unimportant issue such as "mans best friend" in a resturant. The fact that Dunedin is and has been a dog friendly town is part of the reason I choose to live here. I spent alot of time in Europe where dogs are equal to people. You take your dog for a stoll and you stop for a beer or coffee or whatever and you pooch gets a bowl of water. This sort of "law enforcement" really ruins things for the residents and visitors to downtown. You have a choices in life, and if a dog in a resturant is offensive then don't dine there anymore. April is "Prevent animal cruelty" month, rescue a dog....and have the best friend you will ever have, after all unconditional love is the best love of all!
Jane Marinello January 26, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Ditto to all the above!!
John Lewis January 26, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I have two Golden Retreivers (the kids) who are immortalized on Anna's wonderful mural at Skips and I treasure the ability to walk with them and stop at the various outdoor patios in downtown. For the restaurants that haven't gotten permits, they should do so expeditiously. For Bars like Skips and Rosies, the city should work with the state to develop a way for people to bring their "kids" inside these non-food establishments. Dogs add immeasureably to the ambience and friendliness of such places, however, these small businesses are not equiped to deal with the state and need our city's staff help. Greg Rice does a great job and we need his help in preserving this wonderful tradition. Meet with the state officials Greg and find a way for the bars that don't serve food to continue welcoming man's best friend!!
JOHN TUCKER January 26, 2012 at 04:49 PM
In consideration for ALL the “dog friendly” bars and restaurants in Dunedin and “THE DUNEDIN DOGGIE RESCUE” GROUP…. ( KK and Cathy…a fantastic duo for doggies!!!!). IF AND WHEN I MIGHT FIND OUT WHO MADE THIS COMPLAINT…. I WILL PERSONALLY REQUEST A PROTEST GROUP….TO MAKE A MAJOR STANCE AGAINST THE INDIVIDUAL THAT COMPLAINED…REGARDLESS OF WHO IT IS!!!!! DUNEDIN DOES NOT NEED YOU!!! THIS IS ABSOLUTELY SICKENING FOR DUNEDIN AND THAT MERCHANT NEEDS TO MOVE ELSEWHERE….WHOEVER YOU ARE….GET OUT OF TOWN TO ANOTHER CITY! JUST THAT SIMPLE!!!!!!!!!! DUNEDIN IS A BEAUTIFUL CITY …BUILT ON DOG LOVERS….AND DOES NOT NEED THIS INDIVIDUAL HERE!!! This is strictly my feeling and opinion…As a former “Dog Friendly” Bar owner. John Tucker
G Hannan January 26, 2012 at 07:29 PM
That is perhaps one of the most ignorant statements I have heard in a long time.
Rosie January 27, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I have one issue with the Doggie Dining Rule. •Hand sanitizer must be available at all tables. I can say it will be gone with the first visit. It is putting temptaion out and puts hardship on business to keep the tables supplied. A sanitizing station would be more appropriate from a business aspect on inventory control.
Richard Caterino January 27, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I guess I forgot "and criticize".
Terry Shugart January 27, 2012 at 05:01 PM
I must disagree with most of you. As much as you may like Rosie's and other places that allow dogs inside, they are breaking the law. The complaining business is probably a competing bar that would likely allow dogs inside...if it were legal. Instead, they are obeying the law and only want everyone to play by the same rules. You don't get to pick and choose the laws you obey. If you think marijuana should be legal, then try to get the law changed. Until then, you shouldn't use it. If you think you should be able to walk around downtown with an alcoholic drink, then try to get the law changed. Until then, you shouldn't do that. I am amazed at comments like 'This sort of "law enforcement" really ruins things'. I suppose you just want the laws you agree with enforced, and the ones you disagree with not enforced? I, too, have a dog who is my best friend. I take him everyone I can that is allowed by law. If the law is changed to allow dogs inside bars, then I will probably bring him along sometimes. I would also let him off the leash in most parks if it were allowed. Until and unless that happens, however, he stays on the leash. Lastly, I see a lot of comments like "if you don't like a bar because they allow dogs, then don't go there" on stories like this. What if I like downtown Dunedin, but all the bars allow dogs against the law? Are you telling me I have to find an entirely new downtown because all the bars are breaking the law?
Krashtest Dumby January 27, 2012 at 09:55 PM
The story mentions service dogs are permitted in restaurants. The story does not mention that miniature horses used by some disabled individuals are also allowed. According to CFR Title 28, part 36, § 36.302, "(9) Miniature horses. (i) A public accommodation shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability." http://tinyurl.com/CFR-TitleIII
Heidiho January 28, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Thank you so much for pointing out the obvious. I think it must be explained that know one is asking or encouraging the "Breaking of laws". Interesting about the word "competing" though. Maybe the complaint was done intentionally, how sad. There is no need for that sort of behavior. There are enough places for everyone to enjoy with or without dogs. So that being said, lets be proactive, what can I/we do to help now that the colplaint has been made. Which places need permits to allow Dogs, horses, birds, snakes or what ever on to, or into their establishments. What marijuana has in equality to this subject I am not too sure, but take comfort, as "legalization" is coming.
Lori February 03, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Any updates. Can we post the name of the "tipster"?????
Lori February 03, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Not a snowbird...a Dunedin establishment.
Dee Dokumaci February 15, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Good News, online petition is ready http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/petloversunite/ please show your support, we really appreciate this:)
Cecilia February 16, 2012 at 11:42 AM
I signed it! I am also forwarding it to my dog friendly friends.
Dee Dokumaci February 17, 2012 at 07:20 AM
Cecilia Thank you so much, your support is much appreciated:)
Huck March 08, 2014 at 09:49 AM
We vacationed year-after-year in Dunedin specifically because it is (hopefully not was) Dog-Eden. And now retired we moved to Dunedin because it is dog friendly. Businesses do you know that one major reason Dunedin is on the travel/tourist map is that it has a dog friendly reputation? Let's not ruin that atmosphere -- we'll be sad and you'll loss business. Come on, this is a big claim-to-fame of our little town.

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