Restaurants with outdoor dining can allow pet dogs on leases or in carriers, starting Aug. 1

Starting Aug. 1, diners can bring their pet dogs to outdoor dining areas in Alabama if the business allows and other conditions, based on Act No. 2021-474.

The law is permissive, not mandatory,” said the sponsor, Rep. Steve McMillan, R-Bay Minette.

The new law sets 10 conditions under which dogs are allowed in an outdoor dining space, including if the restaurant owner allows it, there is an entrance to the outdoor area that doesn’t require going through the restaurant to get to it and the dog is on a leash or in a pet carrier.

It also requires a “prominent sign” that the outdoor dining area is open to use by patrons with pet dogs. McMillan and other proponents said carrying pet dogs to eating establishments has become a lifestyle choice that many are already making without a state law to regulate it. “It also is timely as so many people are dining outside” due to COVID-19 concerns, McMillan said.

On the last day of the Alabama Legislature’s 2021 regular session, the Alabama Senate gave final approval to the legislation, which the Alabama House had approved Feb. 25. The governor signed it May 20.

State law continues to allow service dogs and law enforcement dogs inside food service establishments.

Health Scores on Drive-Thru Menus
Legislation requiring restaurants with food inspection scores below an 85 to post their rating on their drive-thru menus died in the 2021 session without floor debate.

HB29 by Rep. Tracy Estes, R-Winfield, received approval Feb. 24 from the House Health Committee, but the full House never considered it.

Most drive-thru patrons don’t come inside and have no idea of the score,” Estes said.

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