Dog-lovers at lunch won't be causing trouble.
Legislation aimed at settling a minor controversy involving dogs and eating establishments passed the House of Representatives Thursday without a dissenting vote. It legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The bill has broad bipartisan support, with more than a third of the General Assembly sponsoring or co-sponsoring the measure.
House Bill 275 specifies that the owner of a food establishment may permit leashed dogs in the business's outdoor patio area or beer garden, regardless of any state regulation to the contrary.
The Delaware Division of Public Health inadvertently sparked controversy last summer when it took a renewed interest in an existing state regulation (Delaware Food Code, Chapter 6, Section 501.115) that prohibits pets in food establishments, including the outdoor areas. The ban does not apply to service animals.
The owners of businesses with outdoor eating areas, as well as many dog owners, argued that the rule was a solution in search of a problem. They maintained dogs had been frequenting such areas for years without creating any significant health or safety issue.