"People like taking their dogs"

"People like taking their dogs"
OLYMPIA - With the Super Bowl coming up Sunday, a lot of people will be watching the game in sports bars. Some of them may want to take their dogs with them. A bill at the state Legislature would make it possible for bars and taverns to allow dogs to come in with their owners.

The bill (SB 5484) “provides that the holder of a spirits, beer and wine restaurant license or a tavern license may allow well-behaved leashed dogs accompanied by their owners.”

Seattle Democrat Senator Ken Jacobsen came up with the idea when he saw dogs waiting outside in the cold while their owners were inside. But up to now, dogs are not legally allowed in bars and taverns.

Sen. Jacobsen told fellow state lawmakers Tuesday that he sees dogs in bars all the time, even though it’s against current law.

"When I'm in these places and I don't have a dog, that I find that it makes the place more human and more comforting," Sen. Jacobsen said.

He says the current prohibition against dogs in bars should be dropped, and it should be up the tavern owner to decide voluntarily whether to let them in.

"People like taking their dogs," he said. "I've seen all kinds of dogs in these places and I have not seen a dog fight."

But the state Department of Health says dogs should remain in dog parks and not in places where food is served.

"Walking spaces are often very tight," said Gregg Grunenfelder of the Department of Health. "Contact surfaces such as countertops, salad bars, guest tabletops are not out of reach of even moderately sized animals. The results therefore are the real potential for contaminated food or food contact surfaces."

But Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle) points to several places in the world where dogs are welcome. "Why, there are certain countries in Europe that have never exhibited health or safety problems," Murray said. "I don't know if Irish dogs are better behaved than American dogs."

Jacobsen admits the bill certainly has stirred up a lot of opinions. "I would have to say it's about 70% positive, 15% say they're allergic and 10% say ‘don't you have anything better to do?’ I say ‘my cat agrees with you, I don't.’ "

Jacobsen realizes this may not make it through this legislative session. It may be put on hold and studied. But he promises to keep hounding lawmakers until it becomes law.