Dine With Your Dog? You’re All Gonna Die!

Dog at the dinner table

Once upon a time, the Itchmos considered opening up a cafe for dining with your pets. We dreamed of a cafe in the city where parents, kids and dogs could spend quality time socializing and dining together. There would be food for people and food for pets. It was a place to hang out on lazy summer days, and a comfortable warm haven on cold winter nights. A place to gather for pet owners and a spot for the neighborhood Spot.

Unfortunately, we were crushed by the reality that Chicago and Illinois laws prohibited the preparation of human food in establishments where pets were present. In other words, if I let dogs into my business, I can’t cook human food. The reasoning? Pets carry disease and bacteria dangerous to humans.

That’s a funny thought. When was the last time you heard of someone getting sick from eating next to their dog (or cat for the matter)? This may come as a surprise to most health officials, but I prepare food and eat next to my dog every single crazy dangerous day. *GASP*


The issue of dining with your pet is a state one, not federal. Each state issues its own set of rules and most of them allow cities to make exceptions or variations upon that rule. Currently, the rules fall into one of two categories: 1) No dogs or pets allowed in any dining service area (indoor or outdoor), or 2) restaurants may permit outdoor dining with pets.

The laws designed to segregate dogs, cats and other animals from kitchens areas are a great idea. Heck, who wants Fido’s fur in their french fries? But most states have gone too far, setting ridiculous rules in to effect to ensure the “public’s safety”.

There’s been a slate of legislation to permit dogs to dine with their owners outdoors, but the ridiculous antiquated notion that dogs and cats all of a sudden becomes a danger to society in a restaurant needs to be erased.

We’ve gotten our share of dog admirers, but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten evil stares from people who are just appalled at our dog while he was quietly sitting under my chair. Ironically, the stares usually come from the same people who’s screaming baby just puked all over the place. I should have a right to a well-behaved dog just as they have a right to flaunt a screaming baby in my face.

All I’m asking is to let businesses decide how they want to run their business. Some people are allergic you say? Go somewhere else. There’s plenty of other restaurants. If someone wants to run a dog-human cafe, let them. And if you have such a business, we’ll be your repeat customers.

22 Responses to “Dine With Your Dog? You’re All Gonna Die!”

  1. wescott20 says:

    It’s true…it’s the people with the badly behaved, screaming baby who are the most disapproving of animals in restaurants…I can’t stand those people! One time, a meal was ruined for me because of the terrible stench that arose from a toddler’s diaper at the next table…it totally put me off my food. The parents did nothing about changing the kid’s diaper…I had to leave the restaurant…eating further was not possible. Animals in restaurants are always clean and well behaved. This is because an owner who would take their animal to a restaurant is a responsible owner who knows their dog will behave…they wouldn’t chance the outing otherwise! That is not always true of the infants and toddlers rude parents inflict on other diners.

  2. kae family says:

    these laws are put in place because pets are considered properties, not unlike women … sadly still in this day and age.

  3. furmom says:

    Since it’s already been proven that pet owners live longer, healthier, and happier, dontcha think most of them are eating next to their pets? More civilized countries like Germany have taken their dogs into restaurants for years(don’t know if they still do). I haven’t heard of anyone suffering from it. However their dogs behave impeccably and bad behavior would not be tolerated. Where does the law stand on humans eating the dog’s dinner in a doggie diner? The meal could be served to the dog, with two plates. I don’t think there would be a law against the human sharing.

  4. vida says:

    Evil Kanevel has nothing on us dare devils who dine with out dogs!

  5. Gotham Unleashed says:

    In New York, we are lucky. Restaurants aren’t mandated to accept dogs (unless they are service dogs of course) but they aren’t required to turn them away either. I see a lot of people with dogs at outdoor cafes. I would love to bring my dogs, but alas they really wouldn’t sit still long enough.

  6. Debra says:

    That’s one of the things I like about Europe so much - dogs are allowed so many more places there than they are here. I’ve seen dogs in bars, restaurants, subways. And yes, they’re always well behaved.

    When I go out for pizza, there’s only one place I go, and it’s because they let me bring my dogs (and the food’s good, too).

  7. Nancy L. says:

    Gee, I’d better tell my little guy that we are endangering our lives having him share the room (and often, the food) during meals. On the other hand, haven’t I read warnings that animals more often catch diseases from humans than vice versa?

    But there’s some sort of paranoia out there I guess. I have been requested to leave while carrying a Papillon puppy who weighed at most 2 pounds, said puppy quiet and in a snuggly type carrier, because “some of our customers are frightened of dogs”. I thought of claiming that he was a service dog but I didn’t think it would pass the straight face test.

  8. straybaby says:

    Gotham Unleashed says:
    July 18th, 2007 at 11:35 am

    actually, just because you see people with their dogs at outdoor cafes, doesn’t mean it’s legal ;) i seem to remember something about a health code . .

  9. Jenna says:

    I live in central IL and we travel around the Chicago and Indianapolis once in a while. (With our Corgi-son in tow, of course.) We have found VERY few restaurants that will even let us eat with him in the outdoor eating area. In chicago, several restaurants have told us he has to be outside the fenced dining area while we are inside the fence. Which almost always means he would not be in the shade of the awning as well. No thank you! We’ll pick up subway and have a picnic instead of your snooty food!

    Don’t even get me started on people and their disgusting offspring that they feel they are entitled to bring ANYwhere. Glad to see others feel the same way.

  10. Eric says:

    Furmom,
    I have friends who live in Germany, and yes, most places still encourage bringing your dog with you. Germany is incredibly dog-friendly.

    We eat with our cats all the time. Heck, we’ve both eaten/drank after our cats. That’s usually not intentional, but if I turn my back for a moment and then find them sneaking a bite or a drink, I’m not about to throw out perfectly good food/drink because one of our cats had a sample. And you know what, I’m not dead yet!

  11. thomas says:

    I think we are in more danger of getting ill from sticking our hands into a bag of pet food and getting particles from the contents on our bodies or breathing in the dust from it.

    maybe there need to be statements on pet food that handling it can be hazardous to your health. Perhaps they should advise us to wear gloves, masks and goggles while handling .

  12. Jeanie says:

    I really took our dog-friendly business establishments for granted here in California. I love walking around downtown Sacramento and seeing all the cute dogs sitting with there owners at the outdoor cafes. Most coffee shops keep doggie bowls out full of fresh water for their customers. It’s really nice. Illinois needs to change that law! Ridiculous.

  13. mittens says:

    i think one is in more danger from the china imported fish that might end up on the table then dog hair. gee, beagle sitting under the table next to you or poisonous mislabled puffer fish instead of the scrod you ordered?

    considering the latest fda conference of ineffective arrogant posing, you might as well eat recalled dog food yourself because the chances are that the people food ain’t any safer.

    i agree with the poster who complained about screaming brats who need to be changed. total ban necessary. or the child that stands up on the bench youre sharing, kicking at your back and staring at the back of your head while the parenst ignore it-off to juvie hall and the parents to the stocks in the center of town for bad parenting.

    i can’t think of too many pet owners whose pets aren’t near the table when the family is eating- try to keep a dog out of the kitchen when food is out. my cats all crowd into the kitchen when i’m preparing food and i’m still alive. i also feed them when i am going to eat-they expect it and strangely so do my cockatie;ls who scream if i don’t feed them the same time i do the cats. i guess it’s family time and theyre my family.

  14. Katie says:

    After the FDA hearing yesterday, I feel at a greater risk dining on meat that has been treated with carbon dioxide so it looks fresher than it is, fish containing outlawed antibiotics and bacteria, protein that isn’t protein… my dogs have never made me sick in 50 yrs! At a restaurant last week - there was food on the floor from one end to the other as a result of three screaming kids - I felt sorry for the servers who had to clean it up. Kids coughing, runny noses, smelly diapers: now that will make a restaurant patron sick.( don’t get me wrong, I love kids!) just have a hard time with people who think family pets carry “plague”….

    Katie

  15. Diella says:

    Oh please…my dog occasionally gets some veggies off of the same fork I use. He’s even learned how to accept veggies off of the fork so that his tounge doesn’t touch the fork but either way, i wouldn’t mind. Low and behold, I’m not ill or dead!!

  16. bigimplants says:

    You had a great idea, and like most great ideas, someone had to stomp on it……I live in Chicago and would love to dine out with all 7 of my large and friendly dogs!

  17. nora marasco says:

    I jumped at the chance to take my impecable mannered Aussie out to eat in Austin Tx for good Mexican food and Margarita’s and here in Des Moines, IA when our local Animal Rescue League (per our local Three Dog Bakery) sponsers the twice monthly benefit “Dine out with your Dog” I make reservations with glee and I attend joyfully on the patio around a gorgeous fountain during the months of June, July and August with other happy dog owners. We are just so happy to be able to take our fur kids out! Alas, these chances come not often enough. I would be a faithful regular of any dining establishment that would allow me and Rufus to attend together. And screaming, openingly sneezing, coughing, filthy and unruly children have ruined many a night our to eat for endless years now.

  18. Becky Alvarez says:

    Did any of these law makers realize that people are totally covered with bacteria, parasites, viruses, etc and they are much more dangerous to other people than doggy germs? The person that sat at the table before you may have sat their infant on the table, exposing you to a plethora of potential pathogens. You are much more at risk of hepatitis from a food handler who isn’t all that good about washing their hands than you are from a dog sitting at your feet or the feet of another diner.

  19. Mary says:

    I don’t know about you all, but I can’t take my dog into the post office or bank, let alone a restaurant. Supposedly it’s to protect all the “fearful” people…

  20. Rhonda says:

    I live in Athens, GA and we have lots of outdoor cafe & coffee areas. Most restaurants allow dogs in these areas. I even order off the kids menus for my dog occasionally. The restaurant has no problem with my special requests of not adding salt, buns, seasonings, etc. Also, where I bank, the employees are all on a first name basis with my dog Bing. They usually say hello to him before they say hi to me. And yes, my dog gets lots of comments about how well behaved he is. He’s more well behaved than most of the children at these restaurants.

  21. Andrea Dickson says:

    It’s almost always legal to have your dog eat in an outdoor dining area. Most laws against animals in restaurants are meant to keep the dogs out of areas in which food is being prepared, even if it’s the adjoining dining room with a door that closes the kitchen off.

    Seattle, as the Itchmos know, is pretty dog friendly, but yeah, you can’t take them inside here, except at the University Village, and even then, only in non-food establishments. Silly.

    Much of Western Europe is more understanding and less freaked out by the possibility that a dog might not be completely sterile. :)

  22. Ken says:

    Someone forgot to inform the birds flying overhead the outdoor dining area…..


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