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Special report: Dining out with your dog can run afoul of state health, safety rules, unless it’s a service animal

(Update: Adding video, comments from state health official, local food industry worker)

Pet owners urged to be respectful of others, consider impacts

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --  Central Oregon loves its pets! But when it comes to restaurants, the Oregon Health Authority is clear- unless the dog is a service animal, it's not allowed inside restaurants.

"The way restaurants look at it is that they can’t necessarily control what’s happening with an animal, whether their servers are petting your dog and then not washing their hands, or you’re getting pet dander in hair and food and things like that," Bend resident Cassidy Bailey told NewsChannel21. "Those are some of the issues that the state looks at, as far as why they installed the law."

Bailey has lived in the Central Oregon area for 10 years, works in the food industry and has owned five dogs, including his current Australian cattle dog mix.

“I respect everybody else’s privacy and everyone else’s space," Bailey said. "I don’t bring my dog out to restaurants. Patio, where it’s expected, is fine. I don’t bring him inside restaurants."

Oregon Health Authority spokesman Jonathan Modie says having non-service animals inside restaurants can be dangerous and increase the spread of disease.

“Employees petting animals, not washing their hands after they do that -- that can spread disease," Modie said. "Then when pets or dogs eat off customer plates or they're standing on tables, or behaving disruptively, that can also lead to the spread of disease and cause injuries."

The American with Disabilities Act defines service animals as dogs individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

Examples of such work include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure and reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, among other work.

Comfort or emotional support dogs do not qualify as service animals, under the ADA.

Bailey said, “Oregon state law says that they’re not allowed unless he’s a service animal, and I'll tell you what -- the only service he provides is my happiness, and that’s not the same thing."

According to the ADA, restaurant staff can legally ask two questions to identify a service animal: (1) Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Medical or training documentation, or a special identification card is not required to be shown.

Customers are encouraged to speak with restaurant managers if they witness OHA violations.

“In the unlikely event that a manager or owner doesn’t seem interested in taking action, then we recommend that restaurant patrons who think they’ve seen a violation reach out to their county and environmental health office," Modie said.

Bailey urged: “Be respectful of other people. Just because 'little Floofy; is an adorable little dog doesn’t mean the person next to you might not be very allergic, so be respectful of your fellow humans."

Article Topic Follows: Special Reports

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.


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