Dogs in restaurants - Seattle style
February 4, 2014 12:32 AM   Subscribe

Overall, Seattle is very dog-friendly with lots of off-leash parks, stores and even dog-friendly restaurants. Some restaurants are known to be dog-friendly but most won't allow dogs. Their response is always directed at King County Health Code. I can't find anything in the Health Code besides rules for Service Animals. What decision do restaurant owners make when deciding that their restaurant is dog-friendly? Do they pay fines and just accept that as part of doing business? Is there a little-known regulation? Are they just counting on few inspections? Wondering about Seattle but if it's the same in your area, speak up. Thanks.
posted by lois1950 to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
In Pittsburgh only outside serving areas can allow dogs, it requires a special variance from the city, and AFAICT the dog area has to be sectioned off from the sidewalk (even if that is just a rope!).
posted by IAmBroom at 12:46 AM on February 4, 2014

I don't know how dog friendly places get away with it, but here's a Seattle Times story mentioning the rules that forbid it.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:59 AM on February 4, 2014

According to the Washington Administrative Code, no animals are allowed to be brought into a restaurant anywhere in the state unless they are service animals.

WAC 246-215-06570:
(1) Except as specified in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, live animals may not be allowed on the PREMISES of a FOOD ESTABLISHMENT.
(Sections 2 and 3 allow fish, fish bait, service animals, and patrol dogs.)

Since I live in Seattle, I see a lot of restaurants that violate this rule. That said, they're not technically allowed. The Public Health Department of Seattle and King County doesn't appear to strictly enforce it unless they see an animal on the premises at the time of an inspection but they did update the food service rules in May, 2013 to clarify that only specific types of animals are considered service animals.

I suspect the answer is that, much like speeding 10MPH over, a restaurant won't get caught or won't get caught often but when they do, it's expensive. (Violating the food safety rules can have your food service license pulled which is lights out for a restaurant.)
posted by fireoyster at 1:00 AM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Psst, the agents of KAOS, that's the Seattle PI, not the Times. :)
posted by fireoyster at 1:02 AM on February 4, 2014

posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:16 AM on February 4, 2014

Norms eatery in fremont lets you bring any dog inside, not just into their(hilarious tiny) outdoor seating area. It's primarily a pub, but they also have pretty good food.

This place has been allowing that for years, and i've never heard of them getting fined/threatened with being shut down/etc.

When i worked at Tullys in college, they REPEATEDLY got harassed by the city/health department inspectors for letting people bring their little lapdogs in slung under their arms.

I have no idea how norms and a couple other places perpetually get away with it. Like the bars that pour illegally strong drinks and have done so for at least a decade though, some places seem to just get turned a blind eye.

I will note that none of the places that perpetually bend/break rules like this and get away with it are in downtown, the u district, or capitol hill though. If a place wants to pull it off it seems like they have to be in a more residential area.
posted by emptythought at 1:57 AM on February 4, 2014

France and the UK
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:51 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

A representative of King County Public Health says that they don't serious penalties merely for allowing dogs in an establishment. I think that has much to do with it.
In fact, pet dogs are not officially permitted in restaurants or even at sidewalk tables, according to Hilary Karasz with Public Health–Seattle and King County. But, she says, restaurants will not be shut down merely because they allow dogs; it would take a food-borne illness, staff not washing their hands or something along those lines.

“It’s not a big health risk, but it’s a potential health risk,” she says. It’s tough to enforce the dog ban, Karasz says, because service animals are allowed within restaurants, and it’s difficult to know for sure which animals are there for service. ("Seattle's Dog Obsession," Seattle Magazine)
That article also discusses Norm's, which is famous for having dogs inside. There is dog artwork everywhere and Norm is the name of the owner's dogs. I have been told that Norm's management chooses to believe that any dog could be a service dog and they just don't want to embarrass people with disabilities by asking if their dog is really a service dog.

If you look up Norm's Eatery in the King County Restaurant inspection information system, you will find repeated citations for "3200 - Insects, rodents, animals not present; entrance..." But such a citation is only worth 5 points and it takes 35 points before an establishment incurs even the smallest possible consequence—mandatory re-inspection within two weeks. It seems you really can ignore this regulation as long as you keep everything else about your restaurant impeccable.
posted by grouse at 6:04 AM on February 4, 2014

A friend recently opened a bar here in Arizona, and says she's only allowed to ask, "Is that a service animal?" If the person says yes, the dog stays. No more proof required and she's off the hook if an inspector comes through. So she's discussed that with regulars and some are willing to say yes when maybe that isn't quite the case so they can bring their dogs in.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:52 AM on February 4, 2014

There used to be a ton of places in Belltown that allowed dogs--like basically everywhere, ten years ago--and then one person made a ton of complaints to the health department and all of a sudden everyone stopped allowing it. When you asked about it, they would say "someone complained to the Health Department"--which doesn't mean they got cited, just that, I assume, the Health Department notified them of the complaint and they decided it wasn't worth the hassle. It was a shame, you used to be able to run all your errands and even pick up a few overpriced groceries at that one place under the Monorail while walking your dog, and now you have to totally exhaust yourself running errands and then separately walking the dog. Sucks, really. If you want a walkable city you have to make it practical for people to live their lives on foot. Everyone talks about Seattle being dog friendly but I'd much rather be able to weave my dog into my life like a normal person than have all these stupid pet parades, "yappy hours" etc.
posted by HotToddy at 8:40 AM on February 4, 2014

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