Support NH HB 1417!

NH HB 1417 would allow ‘well-behaved’ dogs into restaurants if the owner of the restaurant approves. This law has been a long time coming, and it makes good common sense. Currently, the bill is before the Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee–you can find a list of Senators on that committee here. Below is my letter to Senator Reynolds in support of this bill. Feel free to use it (or parts of it) if you would like to write to her (or your Senator).

Dear Senator Reynolds,

I am writing today to express my support of HB1417, ‘allowing companion animals in certain parts of restaurants.’ There are several reasons this bill would be beneficial to the economy of the state, as well as to its residents.

Firstly, as a resident of Plymouth, I frequently see dogs accompanying shoppers on Main Street, even sitting in outdoor areas such as in front of Chase Street Market. These people represent potential customers for the many Plymouth restaurants, but the lack of outdoor seating at all but two restaurants (and the frequently inclement weather) prevents dog owners from patronizing any of these establishments with their pets. I have personally spoken with restaurant owners who have expressed a desire to allow patrons to bring their dogs into their restaurants, but who cannot because of existing law. I suspect this situation is repeated across the state, from town to town.

Secondly, allowing dogs within an establishment would give restaurant owners the ability to easily avoid staff issues involving service animals. The current legislation surrounding service animals is often difficult for owners to explain to staff, with the result that many simply tell their staff to allow any dog into the restaurant if the dog’s owner claims it is a service animal. In reality, asking the dog’s owner any additional questions could result in legal action against the restaurant, and simply letting in any dog that a person claims is a ‘service dog’ is the easiest and safest course of action. HB 1417 would alleviate the awkwardness of this process, as owners could simply allow all dogs into the public areas of their restaurant and inform staff of that policy.

Finally, in response to the position that allowing dogs into a restaurant poses a health risk, I would offer two counter-arguments:

1) If dogs posed a significant health risk in the public areas of a restaurant, such risk should (and probably would) outweigh the benefits of allowing service dogs into an establishment. Clearly, this is not the case.

2) While there are numerous regulations pertaining to hygiene in non-public areas of a restaurant (e.g. ’employees must wash hands’), I am not familiar with any which govern the hygiene of an individual patron of such an establishment. In fact, I believe that BFOQ for positions in non-public areas of a restaurant are such that individuals requiring a service dog to perform their job may be refused employment, as that animal’s presence in food prep areas would violate health codes. Despite this, a restaurant’s patron may use the bathroom facilities, not wash their hands, and proceed to exchange money with their server. It is difficult to imagine how a dog’s presence could increase the risk of disease transmission when compared with this example, yet this behavior is perfectly legal.

Based on these reasons, I ask that you support HB 1417 as it is reviewed by the Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee. Thank you for your time and your service to our community.

Sincerely,

Vasken Hauri
Plymouth, NH

3 comments

  1. Adolf Schicklgruber says:

    At the risk of seeming pet unfriendly (which I am), I think we should oppose NH HB 1417. Dogs are notoriously unsanitary, prone to spontaneous barfing and unseemly sniffing of hindquarters. Nor are they always civil to each other, or to humans. Granted, there is always the risk that some human oaf will sneeze on the salad bar, but why increase risk unnecessarily? If you want to eat out, leave the dog at home.

    New Hampshire probably needs a law to require stricter certification of companion animals. If you need to bring a dog into a restaurant, present a state issued license that certifies that need. Then there's no ambiguity. Just like you can't park in a handicap zone unless you have that state issued placard hanging from your rear-view mirror.

    If you start letting dogs into restaurants, then in no time at all someone will insist on bringing in their companion horse, or duck, or camel. While this might increase revenue for those restaurateurs who can serve up hay and grain, it will be difficult to enforce the no spitting rule, and the salad bar would most certainly be trashed in short order.

    HB 1417 is the proverbial nose under the tent, and it deserves a swift kick in the nostrils. Clearly someone in Concord doesn't have enough to do during the day.

    • Vasken says:

      Unfortunately, barfing, being unsanitary, and hindquarter sniffing are not illegal if performed by humans, even in a restaurant. In fact, as far as I am aware, there are no laws governing the hygiene of patrons in a food service establishment (unless, apparently, they are non-human). I don't even need to address the ability of humans to be uncivil to one another–we do it more efficiently and on a greater scale than even an entire pack of dogs could possibly imagine.

      Also, I think you're thinking of 'service' animals, and the law preventing businesses from inquiring about the legitimacy of a service animal are federal, not state, laws.

      Horses, ducks, and camels are not considered service or companion animals, so the law could not apply to them, even if it was written to encompass all companion animals.

      P.S. I think we should ban airplanes flying over my house. I live near the airport and they're constantly buzzing over and annoying me. Also, some of them drop pee bags sometimes, so let's ban the whole lot of them from even taking off–the risk is too great.

    • Vasken says:

      …and one more thing: aside from bacteria generated from a lack of hygiene, there are no diseases that can be communicated between humans and dogs, unlike between humans. So let's make sure to ban anyone with an elevated body temperature from eating out–that will actually help reduce the rate of infection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *