Opinion: Now that dogs can dine at restaurants, here are a few rules of decorum

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It’s official — restaurants in California can now allow dogs to accompany their people on patios and in other outside areas set aside for dining. Gov. Jerry Brown, whose own dog, a Welsh corgi named Sutter, can be seen frequently strolling with him and his wife and a host of other Sacramento players, announced Thursday that he had signed Assembly Bill 1965 into law. That he would do so, I never doubted.

The bill, authored by Assembly member Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), doesn’t obligate restaurant owners to serve dogs, so to speak, nor does it stop local jurisdictions from prohibiting it. But it eliminates the state prohibition against doing so.

Some restaurants had allowed the practice anyway. When the bill’s sponsor, Judie Mancuso, an animal welfare advocate and president of Social Compassion in Legislation, took her two Chihuahuas out to dinner with her, she found that she would be allowed at one restaurant and not allowed at another -- even if the eateries were just different locations of the same chain. But when staff at one restaurant told her it was against state law, she vowed to change it.


In fact, she could still have that same experience under the new law. The staff would just say it was restaurant policy.

But I would hope that restaurants would see this new measure as an incentive to open up their outdoor spaces to diners and their dogs. People love taking their dogs everywhere with them. I think restaurateurs would attract more patrons if they were allowed to bring their furry companions along.

As with humans dining at restaurants, there should be rules of decorum — dogs should be well-behaved, clean and refrain from talking loudly on their cellphones.

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