Allowing Dogs At Outside Restaurant Patios

Q. I love dining with my Black Russian Terrier, Eli at the numerous dog friendly restaurant patios in Sacramento. Why do some restaurants allow dogs on their outdoor patios and some don’t?

Julie S.

A. More and more, restaurants are recognizing the buying power of dog owners. So restaurants are welcoming pet diners onto their patios some even making special treats and providing bowls of water for their canine customers.

With the exception of recognized service animals, Health & Safety Code (H&SC) Section 114259.5  prohibits live animals in food facilities. A food facility is defined as an operation that stores, prepares packages, serves, vends or otherwise provides food for human consumption (H&SC Section 113789).

It is the right of a facility owner or operator to deny animals access to their premises; except for service animals and dogs under the control of uniformed law enforcement officers or licensed private patrol operators acting within the scope of their work duties.

Dogs must be excluded from an outdoor patio if they have to walk through the inside of the restaurant to get to the outdoor seating.

Bon Appétit or should I say Bone Appétit Eli and Julie!

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian



  • Davi Rodrigues

    I’m not sure where that portion about “walking through the inside” is the determining factor. The health code applies to the property, and they don’t allow animals anywhere, with the exception of guide dogs

  • Ann King

    I don’t know the exact specifics of the law for non-working (non-service) dogs, but I’ve found even the big chains (e.g. Rubio’s, Chipotle) that usually have outdoor seating are inconsistent in their rule about dogs. I am able to sometimes just slip in and no one says anything, and then sometimes I’m told to remove my dog. It seems random.

    • Davi Rodrigues

      The code forbids it, but some operators’ feet get wobbly on enforcing it. Who wants to drive away a customer? But…if the health department inspects and finds animals, they can cite, and that may cost the facility owner. If they find recurring violations, they can close the facility for a day or more.
      I see these people bringing dogs into the grocery stores these days too, and just because they keep them in hand or purse, they think it’s not a problem. It’s still a violation, and not very sanitary.

  • Humans are generally far filthier than dogs, so why such squeamishness about them being on patios? Our hands alone are walking petri dishes, and we touch doors, tables, chairs, salt shakers…


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