Dogs don't belong at restaurants

Pets, particularly dogs, are beloved in our community and in our homes.
Jul 1, 2013


While we love Fido as much as the next person does, a proposal that would allow dogs at outdoor eating establishments goes a bit too far.

House Bill 4335, currently under consideration in Lansing, would allow pet owners to take their canine companions to the outdoor dining areas of restaurants. While the intention is good — finding a way to promote the state to vacationing pet-lovers — the results could be disastrous.

Imagine sitting down at the outdoor patio of one of our fine eating establishments in downtown Grand Haven. There’s a nice breeze, soft music, and you’re enjoying the company of your date.

Then, you smell wet dog nearby, or you feel the hot breath of a St. Bernard panting and drooling on your leg, or that beagle right in front of you is feeling frisky with the table leg, or a leash gets wrapped around your chair as a friendly Labrador bounds after a poodle walking by.

Voila! Your perfectly nice, and likely not inexpensive, dining experience might have just been ruined.

The truth of the matter is that dogs will be dogs. Many people think that their Fido or Fifi is the most well-behaved creature on four legs. Well, sometimes that’s just not the case.

Even if it is, they’re still dogs. And dogs often do gross things that aren’t meant for dinner table conversation.

Currently, pets — other than highly trained service animals — are banned from eating establishments.

Luckily, House Bill 4335 would allow local municipalities to adopt stricter ordinances regarding pets at dining establishments.

If the bill is approved at the state level, we urge our local governments to seriously think it over before allowing eating establishments to become dog parks.

If Fido really enjoys your filet mignon or the dinner rolls, take him back a doggy bag. Believe us, he’ll be excited to see you again after your hour-long dinner break and will forgive anything if you chuck him a chunk of steak.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



I agree, please stay home.


Properly trained you can stick your face in their bowls if you can stand the smell of the gruel we feed them!


Our dog would gladly share his food with us, and lick the crumbs off our faces as well. It's amazing how people with untrained dogs try to ruin it for everybody; they usually have issues with their children as well, too much work to put in the effort to get it right.


Ha, you are correct. However, most people that bring their dog to restaurants don't know how to train their dogs properly and are afraid to hurt the dogs feelings. They think it's a feat to get the dog to sit after commanding it 5 times!


"most people"?? LOL, I'm sorry but aren't you reaching a bit with that statement? You sound like someone who just doesn't care for dogs, which is fine, but go to any dog-friendly touristy city and you will see many cafes and restaurants with outdoor dining that do allow dogs and MOST people who bring dogs bring well behaved dogs.


I love dogs, I hate selfish owners. Big difference. And yes, bringing your dog to public places is selfish. Sorry. I have a dog that's well-behaved and very loving. That still doesn't make me want to bring him to dinner. I'd rather find a nice lady for that.


I so want to make a funny reference to cats right now to keep this light hearted topic going but I'll choose to just tee it up for someone;-)


I'll bet you had this in mind....


Ya, that's my exact thoughts of what kitty's do to a hound dog...right Creedance!


Bringing your dog to public places is selfish??? I feel horrible for your dog (sorry). . . isn't a dog park "public", a bike path "public", etc??? I assume you never walk/run your dog then, take him/her to the vet, etc ... I'm not going to argue with someone who thinks it's selfish to bring your dog to a public place. I bring my dogs to the boardwalk, bike path, dog parks, dog beach, walk or run them daily, they go to the pet store with me sometimes, etc. Since you brought name calling into this by calling me selfish, I'm not going to stoop to your level but I will say I feel horrible for your dog if he/she never leaves the house. . . and I feel sorry for you that you cannot accept another person's opinion without name calling.


I wasn't name calling. It was a general statement calling it a selfish act. My dog goes to plenty of places that are appropriate for dogs. Not a boardwalk I can tell you that. Most people are annoyed when dogs are on the boardwalk. Just sit out there and see some of the dogs pulling at the end of the leash, barking, and trying to get to other dogs. That's real pleasant. I take my dog out a lot. Not to eat, not to bother the rest of the public either. The good thing is that a lot of other dog owners even agree with me. Just to follow up on a different post you made, it shows how far out of touch you are when you believe that other people outside of your house love your dog. They may say it to your face, but if it died tomorrow, they would give you a sympathy statement and move on with their lives like nothing happened. Believe what you want, but that is true.


You seem like quite an angry individual. It's pretty sad that you cannot debate in a mature way. It's not worth my time to argue with you when you act like a know-it all. You would have to know "most" people to give an opinion of "most" people.


Then why did you reply? Basically, you're just saying in a round about way that you have no counter argument on why dogs should be allowed other than your inability to no not humanize your pet. I'm cool with that. Good talk though. As far as the rest of your comment, how do I seem like a know it all? How can I not say most when any person I have talked to, dog owners or not, think it's stupid to allow dogs at restaurants. I would guess that's a sample size of maybe 40 people, but 40 - 0 makes it safe for me to say most. That's how statistics work. They take sample sizes that represent a larger base. I could be wrong, no doubt, but I feel confident in saying that people don't want to dine with dog fur floating around. Of course, I don't expect you to understand all that so I will give you one simple string of questions and I want a real answer. Who's going to determine which dogs are behaved enough to dine out? What will the process be to determine what well behaved dog means? How will you deal with human patrons that are allergic to the dogs?


I love dogs and welcome them. I also have had a career in hospitality for over thirty-six years. The restaurants should decide for themselves if it is a fit for their concept. Along with this ...Open up the parks and the beaches to dogs as well and enforce the law through peer pressure while investing into signs and doggie bags to scoop up and caladeral damage. Pets are the best thing for the human race.


We have two dogs that are well trained, interact with other humans and dogs just fine & I would NEVER even consider imposing them on other diners. If a restaurant chose to allow it, fine, I would choose to dine elsewhere.


Change the Ottawa county health code for dogs and/or animals to have a right to be seated at a restaurant. Responsible owners with well behaved animals are the key to changing the current code. if you decide to bring a dog to an establishment, be sure the pet is under control and people friendly. Most dog owners are responsible when out in public, but it is the "few" that ruin it for the rest. I urge you to check out the health code laws that govern this debate.



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