McMillan sponsors bill allowing pet dogs in outdoor dining areas
A bill sponsored by Rep. Steve McMillan (R – Foley) to allow pet dogs in outdoor dining areas at restaurants recently passed the Alabama House now heads to the Senate.
McMillan said he was inspired to create the bill, HB-235, after receiving a lot of feedback from constituents that wanted to be able to dine with their dogs in appropriate venues.
“Everybody loves their dogs and often want to bring them with them when they go places,” McMillan said. “Here in Baldwin County, and especially in my district, we’ve got a lot of restaurants that offer outdoor dining, so it just makes sense that we amend the current law to allow folks to bring their furry friends with them and enjoy the great views and good food together.”
McMillan’s bill is a statewide bill that would affect not only his district in Baldwin County, but food service establishments around the state. He said he had also received backing from the Alabama Restaurant Association.
“This was not just a Baldwin County issue, though that’s who I heard the most from,” McMillan said. “If a restaurant has an outdoor area and wants to allow people to bring their dogs with them, they ought to be able to do so.”
McMillan introduced the same bill last session, which passed the House, but got delayed in the Senate due to the pandemic.
“The bill was making good progress before all of this COVID-19 mess happened, so I thought it would be something we’d want to continue in another session to get it through and get it signed,” McMillan said. “I haven’t seen any major opposition come out against it, last session or this session. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get it over the line this session.”
Under the proposed bill, the owners of food service establishments would decide whether to allow pet dogs in their outdoor dining areas. If they chose to do so, the owner would file for a waiver with the State Health Department and agree to follow prescribed rules. Signage stating the designated outdoor dining area would be available for patrons with pet dogs would also be required, as would a separate outdoor entrance for the pet dogs to enter without going through the food service area. The pet dogs would not be allowed on the chairs, benches, seats or other fixtures of the outdoor dining area.
“I’m going to keep pushing this bill, and, based on the large number of statewide dog owners, I think we’ll see positive results for all Alabamians on this, including our four-legged canine friends,” McMillan said.