2/22/2013     Edition  #8 – 2013

Dog Owners of the Granite State


2013 NH Legislative Update #8

Appropriate Forwarding Encouraged

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UPDATE HB 390 (Allowing companion dogs at outdoor cafés)

According Rep. Keith Murphy, sponsor of the bill, service dog owners packed the House Commerce Committee public hearing on February 14th. They are concerned that companion dogs will interfere with their service dog and cause a disabled person difficulty. Even though the bill requires the companion dog to be removed if a service dog patron is seated, opponents of the bill perceive that this action will annoy other patrons and disrupt their dining.  In response, one member of the committee commented that the disabled person could always take seating inside the restaurant if they didn’t want to deal with the potential of companion dogs in the outside seating area.

The committee is getting pressured to accede to the demands of those with service dogs that oppose the bill. DOGS believes restaurant owners should have the right to decide whether to allow companion dogs.  Our research indicates that several states allow companion dogs in “patio” areas.  Many states allow the local government to enact an ordinance or variance permitting dogs in designated outdoor seating areas of public food service establishments.  Some require the ordinances to include specific requirements established by state law, including permit fees and sanitation and safety conditions that must be met. None of these states are in violation of Federal ADA requirements.

DOGS requested that the requirement for a companion animal to leave if a service dog is present be removed from the bill. The US Department of Justice’s ADA 2010 revised requirements guidance allows the owner of an establishment to ask that an unruly or undisciplined service dog be removed from an area.  Therefore, there is no special right for an unruly service dog to remain and eject the well behaved companion animal.

DOGS encourages our members to write the House Commerce Committee and urge passage of HB 390 (email the committee at HouseCommerceAndConsumerAffairs@leg.state.nh.us , letter to Dear Chairman Ed Butler and members of the Committee,  and copy DOGS legislative coordinator at yln@comcast.net).