CITIZEN VOICES® More dog friendly dining options in NH?
Feb 22, 2019
The New Hampshire Legislature is considering a bill that would open the door to more pet-friendly dining options in the Granite State.
HB 249 would give restaurants the option to allow all dogs, not just service animals, inside their premises. The dogs would be allowed in dining areas only, not kitchens or areas where food is being prepared. The restaurant would also be required to post a sign clearly stating that dogs were allowed inside.
Current rules for dogs in NH restaurants
Currently, restaurants in NH are required to allow legally-recognized service animals inside, but forbidden to allow other dogs. The only exception is for a restaurant owner's “companion animal", though there are strict rules about where that animal can and can't go.
Restaurants do currently have the option to allow animals in outdoor seating areas, with some local regulation.
Pros and cons
Supporters of HB 249 note that many individuals rely on a companion animal for emotional support, such as people suffering from PTSD, yet that animal might not qualify as a full-fledged service animal. This bill would make it easier for such people to go out to eat.
Others argue that giving restaurant owners the option to allow dogs potentially opens them up to a bigger market. It also means dog owners who prefer not to leave their animals at home would have year-round choices for going out to eat. Those who prefer not to eat around dogs could choose to patronize restaurants that remain dog-free.
Opponents express concerns about hygiene as well as public safety. Others point out that allowing all dogs into restaurants means potential trouble for disabled people with service animals, as pets can be a major distraction for service dogs or can even result in trauma to the animal that results in its being decommissioned.