GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — In Austin, dining with dogs is nothing new. Philip Duke is the bookkeeper at Opal Divine’s in Austin, which allows dogs on its patio.
“They’re part of the family and it adds to the family feel of a restaurant,” says Duke as he cradles his poodle-mix in his arms on the patio.
If you bring a dog on a patio in Austin, there are rules. You cannot put the dog on the table and servers cannot pet your dog.
In Georgetown, where council members voted against the measure Tuesday night, there would’ve been even more rules. Dogs wouldn’t have been allowed within seven feet of any restaurant entrance, among others.
“I wouldn’t want to walk into a restaurant and find out all of a sudden they’re allowing dogs on the patio,” said Mayor Pro Tem Steve Fought, one of four city council members who voted against allowing dogs on patios in Georgetown. He says it’s unsanitary.
“Not all dogs eat off the table, but you’re going to have it every once in a while,” explains Fought. “You’re going to have a dog that has an accident, and even though you clean up, you’re going to traipse some of that stuff through and it’s going to get into the restaurant.”
Fought also says no restaurant owners in Georgetown have come forward asking the city to allow dogs at their businesses.
“By not allowing it, we provide a shield for restaurant owners to say no without them being blamed for it,” says Fought.
But Duke says the pups don’t have to be a big deal. “It doesn’t have to be a health issue, just use common sense.”
Georgetown City Council Member Keith Brainard proposed allowing dogs on patios. He says he may try to bring the item back to city council within the next year.
Service dogs, which are trained to do work or perform tasks for someone with a disability, are always an exception, but trying to pass off your dog as a service dog when it’s not, is illegal in Texas.
A person who uses a harness or leash that’s commonly used by persons with disabilities, to represent that his or her animal is a specially trained service animal, when training has not in fact been provided, is guilty of a misdemeanor. The penalty is a fine of up to $300 and 30 hours of community service.
However, you can’t ask for proof. If a dog is a registered service dog, the Americans with Disabilities Act says it’s against the law to ask for documentation. There are only two questions you can ask: Is the service animal required because of a disability? And what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?