Conscience Laureate

Monday, May 7, 2012


First let me note that I LOVE dogs!  I was the creator of the 2012 Dog of Distinction Campaign for the Chicago City Clerk’s Office and had dogs as pets growing up.  But, in 2008, when the City of Chicago passed an ordinance allowing dogs in restaurants, I would have written a blog stating the idea of dining with strange dogs would make me nauseous.  I am writing about it now, because Chicago is considering an ordinance that would make it easier for restaurants to get licensed for doggy dinning.

According to Crain’sChicago Business, “The ordinance is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to streamline business licenses to 48 types from 117. If passed, the rules governed by the city's four-year-old “dog-friendly area” license would be folded into the main food retail license. Aldermen will review the proposal at a May 8 joint hearing between the budget and licensing committees and take a vote with the full City Council on May 9.”  The story also said, ““Right now, 98 businesses hold the $450 biennial supplemental permit out of 11,944 licensed retail food establishments.”  So it has been easy for me to avoid dog-friendly restaurants because there have been so few. 

Along with the restaurant being licensed the rules are:

1.Only restaurants with outdoor areas where dogs do not have to pass through the interior of the establishment to the outdoor area will be allowed to participate.

2.Dogs will be allowed in restaurants pending individual license approval and registration by the restaurant. This is a volunteer enrollment. Restaurant owners must post clear signage on their patios for patrons to identify participating restaurants.

3.Servers will not be allowed to handle the dogs or offer food to dogs, only water.

4.Dogs will not be allowed to sit or place their paws on furniture.

5.If attacks occur on the premises, 311 must be contacted by the establishment.

6.Dog patrons must have a city license and proof of vaccines to use dog friendly patios.

Unfortunately I have been trapped a few times at dog-friendly restaurants and it has been horrible!  A dog no more belongs being tied up and forced to sit quietly while his owner is dining than a three-year old is.  A dog is an animal and he does not understand what is going on and he whines and drools. This is not an atmosphere conducive for me or other diners.

I find the conditions disgustingly unsanitary.  As the dog shakes his body, little pieces of fur fly into my food. Disagreeing with me is my friend pet guru Steve Dale.

He reaches more pet owners than any other pet journalist in America. He writes a twice-weekly syndicated newspaper column (Tribune Media Services); he’s a contributing editor at USA Weekend and host of two nationally syndicated radio shows, Steve Dale’s Pet World and The Pet Minute, and Steve Dale’s Pet World at WGN Radio, Chicago.

In relation to food safety and “paws on the patio,” he recently wroteSome say that there's a concern about food safety. That's ridiculous - the dogs are not in the kitchen where food is prepared. Most people with dogs (and/or cats) in America - and we're talking many millions of families - eat while their pet is in the kitchen. This has been going on for as long as there have been pets, yet people aren't dropping of illness. As long as you aren't eating from the same plate/bowl, the Centers for Disease control has no issue with this. If there is a danger to eating around animals al fresco it comes from above. Birds don't wear diapers. Also, birds, squirrels and let's just say other rodents who may scamper on tables before and after hours. If there is a health risk to eating outside, it's not from dogs.”

After reading his column, I now can never eat outdoors again just imagining the rats who have licked the tabletops in the middle of the night.

Bottom line is that there are certain activities that should not be shared in public-sex, breast feeding, women in sleeveless blouses and a dog sitting in a restaurant.  


  1. In Europe, dog dining is common and good behavior is mandatory. I met my first Rhodesian Ridgeback at a restaurant in England planted quietly under a table as the family dined.

    We need to be concerned as much about the two legged variety that cause unpleasantness as well as the often calmer and cleaner four legged variety.

    As with all things, it is the human that holds the key to good behavior and cleanliness.
    So one must leave the drooling, gaseous, noisy and disruptive of all species at home.

  2. Being a proud dog owner I would love to bring my dogs to a restaurant with me instead of leaving them at home. They are clean and better behaved than many people I know!

  3. It works in Europe because people train their dogs well. In America, I don't think so although it would allow me to go out more often if I could bring the pooch

  4. Well, you managed to PO dog owners, women with no sleeves, sexual exhibitionists, and the worst and most vocal, breast feeders. I happen to agree with you on the dog issue. I refuse to patronize any place that allows dogs.

  5. So many restaurants are having to raise their prices these days in order to make ends meet, so eating out has become much more expensive that it used to once be.

    Chicago Restaurants