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Bill allowing dogs in Hawaii restaurants introduced, referred to committees

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A bill that would allow restaurant owners to decide whether dogs are allowed on their premises has been introduced at the Hawaii State Legislature.

State Rep. John Mizuno introduced House Bill 681, and Sen. Mike Gabbard introduced Senate Bill 1152, proposals that would allow a change in state health codes so that a restaurant owner or manager can allow dogs in their restaurants, providing that certain conditions are met. Both passed first reading and have been referred to various committees.

“The key word is discretion of the owner and manager of the restaurant,” said Mizuno. “Let’s give the restaurant owner the discretion. For some, it may work and for others, it may not…As long as they have a public safety protocol, I think it’s worth the discussion.”

Mizuno noted that some hotels are now pet-friendly, and he believes the restaurateur should have the discretion of deciding whether or not to allow dogs if doing so could potentially broaden their customer base.

Among the safeguards proposed in the bills are that:

>> The dog shall be under the control of the patron at all times, and in a carrier or on a leash held by the patron or tied to the patron’s table;

>> The dog shall remain within the patron’s seating area and on the floor;

>> The dog shall not disturb or interact with other patrons or dogs, except by invitation;

>> The dog shall be housebroken; if the dog relieves itself within the restaurant, the patron shall be responsible for thoroughly cleaning up after the dog and any affected areas;

>> The restaurant permitting dogs shall prohibit food service employees from having direct contact with a dog while on duty;

>> Restaurants shall require that any food-service employee who comes into contact with a dog wash their hands as required by law;

>> Restaurants shall post at each entrance a sign, displaying the message “Dogs are allowed in this restaurant.”

Under existing state health codes, pet dogs are not allowed at establishments that serve food and beverages.

The bills, which were advocated for by the Hawaiian Humane Society as part of creating a more pet-friendly community, were preceded by the launch of an online petition, which has since collected more than 3,200 signatures. The Hawaiian Humane Society said nine other states in the U.S. have passed laws allowing restaurateurs to adopt dog-friendly policies.

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