Allowing Pets on Restaurant Patios

A few months ago, a friend of mine called me, concerned because some of the restaurants and cafes in the West Village were receiving notices of violating the city’s health code because they were allowing dogs on outdoor patios. I couldn’t believe it: a ticket for pets on patios?

My husband and I ride our bikes on the Katy Trail most weekends, and often have lunch or dinner in Uptown or Middle Greenville, where we regularly see people dining outside with their pooches at their feet. It makes the atmosphere seem laid back, and is yet another amenity for customers. How could bonding with your dog over a bagel be illegal?

I did a little research and found out from our City Attorney that the prohibition is a state law, and if the City of Dallas wanted to allow pets on patios, we’d have to change state law or get an exemption for Dallas.

Our council district is the most urban in the city, with the most dense mixed-use areas in Dallas. Combined with eclectic Old East Dallas, changing the ban on pets on patios is particulalrly important for our council district.

I asked our City Attorney to help figure out a process for Dallas to allow dogs on patios. He’s now working with the State Health Department to create an ordinance for Dallas, and will be briefing the city council on the proposed law. Food establishments wishing to allow dogs on outdoor patios would have to get a special permit from the city, and comply with whatever health regulations may be required.

I’ve discussed the new ordinance with the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association, and they are very excited about the change. If you’ve got a pooch who loves to join you for brunch at the neighborhood restaurant, I’d love to hear your thoughts — shoot me an email at