On Tuesday, New York City's Health Department finalized the new rules for the Dining with Dogs law, which the state Legislature passed in 2015. Under the new law, it is legal for restaurants to allow canine pets to stay in distinct outdoor dining areas while their owners eat.
According to Mary T. Bassett, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Health, the new rules make sure that diners are allowed to bring their canine pets to outdoor dining areas as well as keep other restaurant patrons protected.
"The health and safety of every New Yorker is our priority," added Bassett.
The initial set of proposed rules required restaurants to check a dog's paperwork before it can be allowed at the outdoor dining areas. Supporters of the Dining with Dogs law raised concerns that the paperwork will limit the number of restaurants who will participate.
All city dogs are required to be vaccinated against rabies. Now, the revised and final set of rules oblige participating restaurants to create a sign that will inform customers that their canine pets must be vaccinated and licensed before they can be allowed to dine with their dogs.
Under the new rule, it's not a requirement for restaurants to verify the dog's paperwork. Restaurants who will participate are required to place barriers, fences or other means to limit or control the contact of dogs that will stay at the outdoor dining spaces.
Moreover, they are obliged to find means on how to limit the dining dogs' contact with the people and dogs passing by on the sidewalks adjacent to the outdoor dining space. The Health Department will roll out additional instructions on how to effectively separate the dogs with other diners and those who are merely passing through.
If the dog attacks while in the restaurant, a spokesperson for the Health Department said the case will be investigated in a way similar to other canine bite cases. The new law will roll out in 30 days.
"These proposed regulations are common-sense measures designed to protect the public health while allowing New Yorkers to dine with their dogs," said Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, who sponsored the new law.
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