CINCINNATI -- You might see often dogs dining alongside their owners at outdoor patio restaurants in Mount Adams and Mount Lookout, but, strictly speaking, you shouldn't. As it turns out, allowing pooches on restaurant patios is illegal in the state of Ohio.
"Other than patrol dogs and service dogs, dogs are not allowed to be in a facility, whether it's an outdoor patio or of course inside," Hamilton County Public Health commissioner Tim Ingram said.
That news came as a surprise to Wurst Bar chef Clayton Smith, who said his restaurant keeps water bowls for customers' dogs on its patio at all times, and to dog owner Jerry Lane, who said he's always on the lookout for new places to take his beloved pup.
According to Ingram, it's a cleanliness issue. Dog hair, dander and excrement can all be illness-inducing contaminants, and allowing multiple pets on the same patio always means risking two of them fighting with one another.
"We understand the importance of the companionship that dogs provide families, but we don't want to compromise the safety and health and sanitation," he said.
But enough people share Lane's desire to take their canine companions to meals that Ohio Sen. Bill Coley and Rep. Laura Lanese have each introduced bills that would allow restaurant owners to make that decision for themselves.
"Businesses know how to operate," Coley said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. "They don't need bureaucrats around the state exercising their authority."