Friday, December 26, 2014

Paws for Thought: Bone-appetit! Dogs are welcome at some restaurants

From page A4 | July 15, 2014 |

Rick & JohnnieW

Johnnie, a Johnson American bulldog, is all smiles as he sits in his modified Burley Cub kid carrier next to Rick Cammarota. Mitch Melody writes, “We attach it to Rick’s bike and the three of us cruise around town. Great workout for the one who is doing the pedaling!” Courtesy photo

Is dining out going to the dogs? California is the most pet-friendly state in the nation but it’s not always easy to take your dog out to dinner. Here’s some help. provides travel guides for dog-friendly campgrounds, hotels, parks, beaches and restaurants. In fact, there’s a listing for Davis restaurants in its California Dog-Friendly Restaurant Guide section. You can also find restaurants at BringFido.

First and foremost, know your doggie etiquette. Dogs should be well-behaved, leashed and close to your table or chair. Bring a bowl, as dogs are not permitted to eat or drink from restaurant dishes. Also, call ahead to be sure outdoor seating is available and that dogs are still welcome, because policies can change.

Although California is the dog-friendliest state in the nation, the legality of dogs dining out is confusing. According to, federal law covers only service dogs that accompany disabled people into restaurants. Since states govern health codes, they determine whether non-service dogs can be in restaurants.

Interestingly, cities or counties may bypass state law by issuing variances to the state code through ordinances or through the health department. Variances may apply to all or individual restaurants. In the end, the final decision to permit non-service dogs on the premises is up to the restaurant owner.

In California, the counties of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara have modified policies to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas. At the state level, California Assembly Bill 1965 addresses the dilemma restaurant owners face when they want to accommodate customers with pets. Passed by an overwhelming majority in the Assembly, AB 1965 awaits passage in the Senate.

Policy changes and state legislation reflect our changing attitudes toward pets. Bone-appetit!

Happy Tails: Shortly after Mitch Melody and Rick Cammarota moved to Sacramento, they went to an animal shelter to look for a dog but nothing clicked. As they left, Mitch told Rick, “The right dog will find us.”

At the time, Rick was working at a bar in West Sacramento when a man came in with his dog, saying that he had to go back to jail because he’d violated his probation.

The next day, Rick arrived at work to find the dog tied up with his food, bowls, cookies, toys and bed nearby. Rick called Mitch and asked her to come get the abandoned dog.

Mitch writes, “The dog was much bigger than I expected. I felt a little nervous taking him home by myself, but the look on the dog’s face told me otherwise. It was later confirmed that he is an American bulldog, Johnson breed.

“The next day we took the dog to the vet to check for a microchip, none was found. We went to the ‘pound’ to see if a missing dog was posted, and looked through Craigslist for weeks.

“Now, when we brought him home, the poor guy had what looked to be burn marks from a car lighter on his leg, and a scar around his muzzle where apparently his mouth had been tied shut. At that time I was thinking if I found the owners, would I want to give him back to that environment?”

When no one claimed the dog, they agreed that Mitch had been correct when she’d said, “The right dog will find us.” Johnnie now lives with Rick, Mitch and their three cats. Mitch observes, “(Johnnie) is the sweetest big ole hundred-pound lug of a dog that any lucky human could be blessed with!”

— Evelyn Dale of Davis is a volunteer and advocate for shelter animal welfare. Contact her at This column is published monthly.





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