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Ordinance allowing dogs at restaurants OK’d

By Staff | Jun 6, 2011

Dog owners will now be able to take their pooch pals out for a bite, so to speak, now that the Cape Coral City Council has approved an ordinance that allows restaurant owners the option of allowing canines on their outdoor dining areas.
For a fee of $75, participating restaurants will be able to allow the animals outside. The new ordinance only pertains to those establishments that want to take part, and is in no way mandatory throughout the city.
“The freedom of choice is what this is all about. It’s our responsibility to give our restaurants a choice,” said Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz, who co-sponsored the ordinance.
Some restaurants in the city were already allowing dogs on their patios, but the city had failed to implement the legislation locally.
The law already exists at the state level, but it requires each municipality to implement the ordinance themselves.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail, who co-sponsored the ordinance with Chulakes-Leetz, said people who aren’t in favor of the move will not be paying any of their tax dollars to support it since the participating restaurants are financially responsible.
He said it’s up the animals’ owners to take responsibility in public.
“As soon as you put that dog on a leash and take it off your property you are responsible,” he said.
Councilmember Erick Kuehn questioned who would be responsible, insurance wise, if a dog bit someone.
But the general consensus among council was that if someone isn’t comfortable with dogs in outdoor eating areas, then don’t frequent the establishments that allow dogs.
Chulakes-Leetz said the ordinance spoke to something much greater: freedom as American citizens.
“This ordinance is about what our men and women are fighting for in other countries, the right to make choices,” he said.