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Ohio Senate votes to allow dogs on restaurant patios statewide

Bill would keep local health officials from being able to make decision, leave it up to restaurant owners.

Restaurant owners and not public health officials would decide whether to allow dogs on outdoor patios and porches under a bill that passed unanimously in the Ohio Senate today, 33-0.

State Sen. Bill Coley, R-West Chester Twp., sponsored the bill.

Coley, who likes to take his sheepdogs Wilby and Elwood with him on vacations, out to dinner and around town, said last month of the restaurant owners: “They know what will work for their businesses and their customers and what won’t. Some businesses will choose to welcome pets in and some will say, ‘You know what, no, we prefer you leave your pet at home.’…That should be up to the business, not up to somebody in the Ohio Department of Health or some bureaucrat in a city or municipality around the state. Let’s leave it to the owners.”

Related: State may leave it up to restaurant owners to allow dogs on patios

A similar bill is pending in the Ohio House that would block local public health officials from implementing or enforcing bans.

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Generally, public health laws prohibit pets on the premises of food service operations or retail food establishments. The ban is to protect against potential food contamination and disease transfer. Coley said restaurants would still have to meet sanitation requirements and would maintain the right to refuse service pets that appear “flea ridden” or unhealthy.

Related: Health department: Pets not allowed on patios

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