Sunday, June 10, 2007

Should Chicago restaurants allow pets to dine al fresco?

Health Dept. barks at dogs at sidewalk cafes CITY COUNCIL | Warns of danger of parasites, fleas, bacteria June 7, 2007 BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter If Chicago's dog-loving aldermen are determined to let dogs accompany their owners to sidewalk cafes, patrons could be forced to use hand sanitizers and dine with plastic utensils. That's the recommendation of Frances Guichard, director of food protection for the Chicago Department of Public Health. On Wednesday, Guichard painted an unappetizing picture of allowing Fido to dine alfresco. She was testifying before a City Council committee considering whether to allow it now that the Legislature has opened the door. Guichard talked about the danger of the spread of bacteria and parasites if dog hair and saliva got on tables, chairs and silverware. The same could happen if cafe employees touch dogs, then handle food. Cites risk of illnesses "Allowing dogs to dine in outdoor cafes is not the best public health practice and creates a greater risk causing foodborne illness. . . . Dogs do carry parasites, fleas. They also carry bacteria. They lie on the ground . . . They also may have feces on their face," Guichard said. Full story here Blog Notes I must confess, I have reservations with this proposed ordinance, but not for the reasons stated by the health official. Fecal matter? Do a google search on the snack bowl at your local tavern. For that matter, search e coli contamination from restaurant employees and customers who don't wash their hands. How about babies in diapers. Should we ban babies from restaurants? My reservations are based on the unfortunate fact, that many owners will attempt to bring dogs that just aren't suited for an environment with lots of people/children, food, jostling and other dogs. I think this could potentially be a problem and a burden for the restaurant owner, who now must ask patrons with badly behaved dogs to leave.

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