On December 21, 2010 I wrote that dogs would soon be allowed on restaurant patios. The Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services (EHS) updated their policy last Friday to make this official and I have posted the EHS press-release below along with the new EHS policy and procedure. 

A New View: Restaurants May Allow Dogs in
Outdoor Patio Areas at Owner’s Discretion

Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services (EHS) has put in place a new policy which allows animals in outdoor patio areas under certain circumstances and at a restaurant owner’s discretion.

For some time, there has been interest on the part of some restaurant owners and members of the community to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas. At issue was the interpretation of the California Health and Safety Code that governs all food facilities in the State, including Santa Barbara County restaurants. It states that “live animals may not be allowed in a food facility”. The new EHS policy reassesses this issue by reviewing outdoor dining service operations and clarifies requirements for restaurants that want to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas.

EHS assessed the health risks that can be increased with dogs in outdoor dining areas. Through this assessment, EHS identified the types of outdoor dining settings that would present low, minimal or no risk to the public. In these settings, restaurant owners allowing dogs in outdoor dining areas would be required to follow practices to minimize
potential risks.

New restaurant inspection criteria were put into place to guide restaurant owners and inspectors. The new policy governing animals in outdoor dining areas can be viewed at

There is no change for indoor dining areas. Under the Health and Safety Code, the only animals allowed inside restaurants are service animals accompanying persons with disabilities or service animals such as police dogs.

The Public Health Department is responsible for protecting the health and safety of all residents of our community. This is achieved in part by enforcing and interpreting state health codes following a science based process to diminish the potential for disease transmission and to promote food safety, and good health. The Public Health Department’s Environmental Health Services division regulates all food facilities in Santa Barbara County.

Policy and Procedure 

Manual: Environmental Health Services
Number: 4000.023
Original Policy Date: April 29, 2011
Authorized By: Jennifer Bernstein, Director
TITLE: Criteria for Animals Allowed in Outdoor Patio Dining

AUTHORITY: California Health and Safety Code Section, 113789, 112266 b., 113713, 114259.2

POLICY: With the exception of recognized service animals, Health & Safety Code (H&SC) Section 114259 prohibits live animals in food facilities. A food facility is defined as an operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends or otherwise provides food for human consumption (H&SC Section 113789). Consequently, this definition would encompass dining areas with waitress stations or other areas of a food facility where such food operations may occur.

Section 112266.b stipulates that all food facilities must be fully enclosed with the exception of dining areas or other approved outdoor service activities. Outdoor service areas, like patios, must meet approved food service requirements as determined by the Local Enforcement Agency. As the Local Enforcement Agency for Santa Barbara County, Environmental Health Services is primarily responsible for determining what constitutes an approved outdoor service operation. As part of an outdoor service area approval process, EHS will review the exclusion of dogs from patio areas where food is served during the plan check and routine inspection process.

PROCEDURE: These groupings should be used by Environmental Health Specialists to determine under what conditions dogs may be allowed on patios. See attached chart.

In addition to the chart, there are specific code sections that may be cited for violation of the Health and Safety Code. These include:

1 – All surfaces on the patio will be cleaned and sanitized (114115.b, 114117(a)(5))
2 – Table tops will be sanitized between each seating of patrons (114083)
3 – Dogs will not have contact with dishes, utensils, tableware, linens or paper products used by patrons (114074)
4 – Food and water served to dogs will be in single-use, disposable containers (114081)
5 – Food spilled on patio will be immediately cleaned up (114257)
6 – Restaurant employees will not touch or pet dogs while working. If they do, they will wash their hands. Restaurant employees will be trained on this requirement for hand washing.114259.4
7 – Food facilities not meeting the conditions for safe patio food service with animals on the premises, will be cited for violations of the Health and Safety Code. (114259.5, 114397, 113980)

It is the right of a facility owner or operator to deny animals access to their premises; except for service animals and dogs under the control of uniformed law enforcement officers or licensed private patrol operators acting with in the scope of their work duties

It is recommend that restaurant owners post a sign specifying their facility is animal or dog friendly and seating is available upon request in the patio.

This entry was posted in Restaurant News. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Christine! says:

    I work at a restaurant that allows dogs on the patio- and 95% of dog owners are responsible with their animals.

    In Solvang, several months ago- I welcome a couple onto our pation, assuring them their dog was welcome (smaller type with short hair- some type of bulldog/pit bull) as well. They came in one at a time to order. I delivered their food to them, and the dog was at her feet with a bowl of water (bowl provided by them). I came out a few minutes later to ask how their food was. At the table next to them, I went to roll down the umbrella and found myself with a dog on my chest with my arm in its mouth. I lept back and bumped into a man (seated with his wife, daughter and her infant), startling all of them in the process.

    The lady used the leash to get the dog off me and without looking me in the eye- she told me I startled her dog and he was protecting her. I was dumbstruck & unable to speak. I simply turned on my heel and went inside- all other folks on the patio were frozen- all looking at me or the couple. I went inside and had the prefect marks of the entire mouth on my arm- though no broken skin.

    I gathered my composure and called the police, who told me they no longer handle these types of problems, that I needed to call animal control.

    I am not sure how I feel about this now…though we continue to allow dogs- and I find the paperwork somewhat silly- who washes and sanitizes their patios- EVER? We have metal grate type tables- hard to wash them as well- and hosing down hardly counts.

  2. Christine! says:

    why? We had our annual Heath Inspection soon after- and all the Heath Inspector said was- Animal Control, if they show up, won’t do much without puncture wounds. He also said he didn’t think dogs should be allowed at all. As I stated before- 95% of dog owners are responsible and have well behaved dogs. I personally don’t take my cat anywhere, but people love their dogs, don’t they?

    • Andy says:

      it sounds like your restaurant does not have patio furniture to allow compliance with the new code to allow dogs on your patio. as you stated, it’s probably hard to sanitize a metal grate table top, especially after every meal. it sounds like your inspection was before these regulations came out. it would be negligent to not report it unless you know you’re employer actually is following these rules now, since you seem to have your doubts when these are things that were never done before.

      • Christine! says:

        Lets see how many businesses in town follow these rules!

        We had a darn near perfect inspection- and it was just a few days before this was formaly announced- and we were given a survey to complete prior to them deciding on the rules they have chosen- the inspector we had was well versed as well as I- who read the entire packet prior to it being printed here…

        the best part about where I work- no raw food, no cooking.

        I am still on the side of no animals- I would never bring my cat to lunch…

  3. Steve says:

    Now you have to be armed with pepper spray to have a meal in town?

  4. EL says:

    It’s this simple: I won’t eat next to your dog. I am disappointed that the city/health department isn’t taking a stronger stand on this.

    My pets aren’t allowed by the table when we’re eating at home, nor do I want to see your dog begging or fighting with others while I’m out.

  5. Christine! says:

    all of my pets live outside.

    The County, in my opinion has done this because, 1- alot of restaurants are already allowing dogs- and this covers their bum- they have regulations- if you don’t “follow”, you are held responsible. And 2- same reason they are letting people now bring their dogs on their boats & kayaks (!!) at Lake Cachuma- too many people leave their dog in the car/camp site unattended- which when reported- ties up police.

  6. roger says:

    My God, I’ve never heard so much whining! Are you sure that I didn’t stumble onto Edhat? Get off my lawn, you damn kids! Don’t skateboard past my house! hard to go through life so terrified of everything! Man up! (ladies, too)

  7. JB says:

    Dogs should not be allowed in restaurants. Period. I once had to sit next to a couple, in a fine dining restaurant patio, on a Saturday evening, who happened to bring along their large dog along on their date. Eating a nice meal while looking at your dog licking its balls is not exactly appetizing. Bringing a dog to a fine dining restaurant when you are on a date is idiotic. Bringing a dog into a restaurant because you have no one else to go with or to leave the dog with probably means you need to a be a better person in order to make more human friends.

    • roger says:

      You are worried about dogs licking their balls on the patio when Chef Pancho is in the kitchen scratching his little flaky testicles while preparing your dinner plate. Few people bring a dog to a “fine dining ” restaurant, usually a casual breakfast or lunch place,not a fancy dinner. Again, I say, be a Man, eat your food with a Manly attitude, pet the dogs, take your date home, give her the Manly best you have, and get up in the morning, take her out to breakfast, pet any dogs that may be there, with a brave and Manly attitude, have a few mimosas, take her back to the house, and do it again. If you don’t whine about the dogs at that point, I doubt that she will notice them!

  8. bil garvin says:

    Health and Safety Code Section 112266.b doesn’t exist. The City should correct Ms. Bernstein and, instead, follow HSC 114259 which prohibits animals at food facilities. Then follow Roger’s advice…

  9. Native Rose says:

    I think the main issue here is there are irresponsible pet owners and unfortunately, they give a bad name to all dog owners. I’m amazed that the woman who’s dog attacked the server was so brazen and irresponsible. Knowing her animal is prone to attack is unconscionable. I have had dogs most of my adult life and still have a 16 y/o very well behaved small dog 16 lbs. I can take her anywhere, yes even to outside restaurants, if allowed. I still keep her on a short leash as a responsible pet owner should. To insure safety, perhaps these dog friendly places should post the following: Etiquette Tips for Dogs at Outdoor Restaurants – Make sure your pooch is well-behaved around other people and especially children. – Leash your four-legged friend and keep him or her from socializing with other diners or employees, unless welcomed. – Try to keep your dog close to your table or chair so he or she is not in the waiter’s path. Dogs are not allowed on the chairs or tables. – Bring your own doggie bowl or ask the waiter for a paper or plastic bowl or cup for water if necessary. Pets are not permitted to eat or drink out of restaurant glasses or dishes, unless they are disposable. – Remember to tie your dog to your chair and not a table. A dog tied to a table can result in spilled drinks or food if he or she is strong enough to make the table move. – Always call ahead or ask first to make sure an establishment allow dogs at their outdoor tables.

  10. Beau Vermilyea says:

    I dont care what any one says animals at a resturant is disgusting and makes me not even want to to eat there. Leave your animals at home.

  11. Kurt Kroger says:

    I submit it should be up to the business owner(s) if they want to let dogs in. Places allowing dogs will get more dog owners and lovers in, will lose the business of dog haters (that’s a free-market business decision).

    The Health & Safety laws should read that no “animal or person” who presents a health risk to other patrons or staff should be allowed in. We’ve lived in Paris and our dog was alllowed in any bar or resturant and there never was a problem because sge (a 50 lb girl) was always clean and well behaved. The owners must be responsible and the dog(s) well-behaved as should be the rule for humans. I’d bet good money that small children who touch everything (floors, under-sides of tables not cleaned for months, their noses, etc. and then touch table tops, chairs, glasses, silverware, etc. likely are a greater health risk. So let’s make H&S laws about real Health & Safety, not irrational dogs are health risk claims.

  12. J M Leonard says:

    I agree with many people about dogs not being allowed in restaurants! I was in one last week I go to every week and as i left and walked thorough the out side patio there was a dog sitting on a chair and his was on the table. I am sorry animals do not belong at any place where food is served!!
    People want respect for their animals then give respect to people who don’t have animals or want them around them. Especially in an eating area where other people go to relax and enjoy eating out away from their home and maybe children and ANIMALS!!! Hello selfish people how about thinking of others besides just yourself! The law says only certain animals that are for seeing eye or handy cap people”s needs not just for your emotional needs and for the sake of taking your pet out! Go else where. Santa Crus Ca prides its self on being one of the most healthy places in the US. Well thats a joke! It is really going to the dogs and the care for other people is not there. Some people are allergic to animals and has anyone thought of that? Wise up folks!! Law suits are coming!! Have more respect for others!! Respect is not outdated!!

  13. JD says:

    I find it very unsanitary to allow an animal that eats poo to dine with me. These creatures carry diseases and their skin is crawling with vermin. California is full of nuts, so I guess this is just another reason not to visit. Dogs should be in cages or running wild in the north.