Lawmaker wants to shoo pets from the restaurant table
Seeing this dog at Eddy V's in Orlando was the final straw for Bruce Antone. Photo by Bruce Antone

EddyVdog
This dog at Eddy V's shouldn't have a seat at the bar, lawmaker says.

Pets may lose their seats at the restaurant table if a new bill becomes law.

Rep. Bruce Antone on Monday filed legislation (HB 243) that prohibits most animals from entering into the majority of restaurants and retail stores in Florida. The Orlando Democrat’s bill excludes service animals, but lapdogs, lizards and Labradors merely keeping their owners company must be chained outside.

His reason? He has gone from seeing people bringing guide dogs to Lowe’s to now pushing baby carriages with pups through Mall at Millennia. The final straw for him came with a visit to Eddy V’s where a dog as large as the human patrons took a seat at the bar.

“Folks are taking pets to the store rather than service animals,” he said. “The problem is getting worse and worse, and I’m trying to crack down on that.”

Antone identifies “household pets” as the major culprits sneaking into stores and eateries.

“In order to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the public, non-service animals are prohibited from traveling through or remaining in indoor portions of a public food service establishment or place of business,” the bill text reads.

The legislation largely leaves it to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to adopt rules for restaurants and retailers. That includes establishing an online portal where customers can make complaints when businesses do not comply with the law.

Antone makes clear he doesn’t want to close down restaurants with outdoor lanais and patios designed to be pet-friendly. And his bill allows localities to grant exceptions to businesses that want to be pet-friendly.

Florida can’t stop consumers with medically required service animals from bringing those creatures in or risk violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to ChowHound.

As for individuals who try to bring in pets and pass them off as service animals, the legislation allows first for a written warning, then a $100 fine on second offense. Repeat offenders from there face misdemeanor criminal charges.

Considering such a lie undermines the legitimate needs of the disabled community, the legislation specifically suggests the fraudulent pet owners help that community out. The bill calls for perpetrators to perform 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities, ultimately leaving the organization to a judge’s discretion.

Florida, as it happens, is one of just 11 states that currently allows dogs in restaurants at all. VISIT FLORIDA maintains an online guide of where diners can eat with their dogs and other pets.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


6 comments

  • william williams

    October 1, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    I don’t really give a flying F one way or the other but it seems to me this could be political suicide for a legislator. 68 % of households own pets and think they are human ( as seen by all the idiots that bought into the hype and voted for Amendment 13 ) so if I was a politician I think I would leave this kind of bill to someone else.

  • Cogent Observer

    October 1, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    Bruce–Truly, this is idiotic. What possible rational basis could there be for your current cause celebre? That you saw a dog as big as a person? I’ll bet the dog was better-mannered and more friendly. Perhaps you have been in the land of Mickey Mouse too long.

    Genuinely, if this is your most serious concern (and that of your constituents), both you and they have far too much time on your hands. You all need to get on with your lives and do something productive.

  • gary

    October 2, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    Finally! Some people are allergic to pet dander. My son in particular, he breaks out in hives and his lungs become irritated. People have gone stupid for their pets these days. The last straw for me was a stupid couple sat behind my family at mass with their little lap dog in the pew. I completely lost my mind. What is wrong with these idiots?

    Listen idiots… not everybody likes dogs! Or any other animal for that matter!

  • Sensible

    October 3, 2019 at 10:57 am

    Gary,

    You are right–some people have allergies and some don’t have pets or like them. But most do have and like them. You are free to take your family to restaurants that don’t allow them-there are lots of them. If enough people don’t like the idea of having pets at restaurants, for whatever reason, the owners of the restaurants that do allow them will lose business and change their policy. Certainly, health codes must be enforced, but beyond that, it is not a legal issue.

    • Jon

      October 3, 2019 at 2:55 pm

      You know why it has never been a legal issue? Because not long ago, people were not self indulgent idiots! There was a time in America, where we all has social grace in public and showed respect for other people. That is history today. A lot of people are all about me! ME ME ME! Self absorbed, self centered, and inconsiderate, tattoo wearing turds!

      • Ed

        October 4, 2019 at 10:22 am

        Jon, when was this time that you speak of? I am 53 and have never seen it in my lifetime. My parents are 78 and have never seen it in their lifetime either. So I’m curious when this magical time was that people showed social grace in public and showed respect for other people? You mean when the government said sit at the back of the bus and dont drink from this water fountain or you will be arrested? Is that the time period for showing respect for other people? Some how I missed this period of our history.

Comments are closed.


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