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Good dogs likely to get a treat in St. Pete Beach

By CASEY CORA
Published August 9, 2006


ST. PETE BEACH - Chasing the tail of a similar law adopted in St. Petersburg, "doggie dining" may be coming to St. Pete Beach.

On Tuesday, the City Commission heard a final reading of an ordinance allowing dogs to accompany their owners at outside seating areas of local restaurants.

If approved, the measure would take effect today.

"If a restaurant wants to do it and the patrons support it, then I think it's a good thing," said Mayor Ward Friszolowski.

"They've done it in Europe for years," said Commissioner Nancy Markoe. "It's always a treat to see civil, controlled pets sitting with their owners."

Permit applications will be offered at no charge to restaurateurs, and participation is voluntary.

Bob Wareham, owner of Sea Critters Cafe, at 2007 Pass-a-Grille Way, said his restaurant already allows patrons to bring dogs along.

"We do it without a permit," he said. "But I guess we'll be applying for a free permit."

Under the proposed ordinance, dogs must be leashed and under "reasonable" control, i.e. not plopping down on tables or chairs or eating off patrons' plates.

They also won't be allowed inside restaurants.

Employees are prohibited from petting dogs while serving food and beverages or handling tableware, and must wash their hands if they touch a dog or enter other parts of the restaurant.

If a dog has any "accidents," the area is required to be cleaned immediately with disinfectants kept in a kit near the outdoor area.

Patrons will be encouraged to wash their hands before dining, and waterless hand sanitizers must be provided at every table in the designated areas.

The pilot program is part of a three-year statewide experiment approved by Gov. Jeb Bush in June.

St. Petersburg approved its doggie dining ordinance in July. A first reading of a similar ordinance in Tampa is slated for Aug. 17.

Patrick Abulone, owner of Patrick's Bayside Grill, won't be applying for a permit.

"We don't think patrons want to spend 20-some dollars on a filet and have a bunch of dogs running around," he said.

Casey Cora can be reached at 727 580-1542 or at ccora@sptimes.com.

[Last modified August 8, 2006, 14:06:45]


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