Coming on the heels, or paws, of at least nine of its cities, Pinellas County is likely to approve new rules in April allowing people to bring their dogs to restaurants and cafes.
This does not mean dogs will be sidling up to you at the bar or stretching out in booths. Like regulations already in place in cities like St. Petersburg and Clearwater, restaurant owners in unincorporated parts of the county would be able to apply for a permit, allowing dog owners and their pets to sit outside together in designated locations.
The permits, good for one year, would come with a set of rules and a fee.
"Dogs shall not be allowed on chairs, tables or other furnishings," reads the proposed ordinance. Leashes would be required at all times and bottles of hand sanitizer must be stationed at each table. If restaurant or cafe employees pet a dog, they must wash their hands after.
And then there is the inevitable question of poop. "Accidents involving dog waste shall be cleaned immediately and the area sanitized." Establishments have to keep "a kit with the appropriate materials" for this task.
At the first hearing for the proposed ordinance Tuesday, one restaurant owner spoke in its favor and no one protested the idea.
"I think there's support for it," said Commissioner Ken Welch, adding that other cities that allow "doggy dining" have not had any problems.
The final vote is scheduled for April 9.