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Ordinance allowing restaurants to cater to canines debated

By Staff | May 23, 2011

An ordinance that would give restaurant owners the choice to open their outdoor patio to the canine community was addressed during the Cape Coral City Council workshop Monday night.
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz said there are five restaurants in Cape Coral that already cater to the canine and owner concept. He said to not have a choice for the very few restaurants that cater and encourage participation would be a great disservice to the community.
“They want to do what they have already been doing for several years,” he said about those businesses that cater to dogs and their owners. “We as a city overlooked this for a period of time to comply with the state statue.”
Councilmember Kevin Mc-Grail said the ordinance is truly an option for the community because there is no requirement for a business to designate any portion of its outdoor patio for dogs. He said many of Cape Coral’s sister communities allow dogs to accompany their owners while eating at restaurant on the outdoor patio.
“This is an option, not a requirement for anyone,” McGrail said about businesses participating.
Some of the concerns McGrail said he has heard from residents deals with liability issue for restaurants and the city of Cape Coral.
“If you are a pet owner, you consume complete liability for your animal,” he said.
Councilmember Bill Deile said he would like to hear from the restaurant community before he votes on the subject because all the feedback that he has received has been negative from the potential customers.
Chulakes-Leetz said the few emails that were not supportive of the ordinance were from those not well educated about the contents of the ordinance.
“Canines are a fabric of our world,” he said. “They serve human beings in a multitude of different ways.”
Deile said if the ordinance is passed, it does not require the business owner to allow dogs at the restaurant, but rather makes it legal for them to do so. He said since the owner’s place of business is a private business he or she can exclude whatever dog breed they wish.
“They have the ability to say ‘I don’t want your dog here for whatever reason’ because it is their property,” Deile said.
He wants to make it clear for those who are opposed to allowing dogs at a restaurant to understand that the canine cannot sit on the table, or put its paws on the table, along with not being allowed to eat from the restaurant’s utensils, bowls and plates.
“They have to be leashed,” Deile said.