7 Ways to Dine with Your Pet in Metro Phoenix

Categories: Chow Bella

dog-restaurant-johnson.jpg
Katie Johnson
Admit it-- you've probably tried to bring your dog to a restaurant before
When some of us go out to eat, we'd rather see an animal on our plate than under the dinner table. But more and more, it's common to see pets at restaurants. So just when is this acceptable in Phoenix, and when isn't it? We dug to find out more. Here are 7 ways to dine with your pet in metro Phoenix.

See also: 13 D-Rated Restaurants in June in Metro Phoenix

Adopt a Fish
The Maricopa County Environmental Services Department regulates and enforces the Food Code here in Phoenix, says Johnny Dilone, Environmental Services' public information officer. And the Food Code is pretty strict. It completely bans live animals from establishments that serve food, including restaurants, grocery stores, and bars, he says, with very few exceptions.

One unusual exception to this rule is made for fish -- edible or decorative -- in tanks. And yes, that rule was probably initially meant to allow for live (for the time being) lobsters but it extends to your pet, too. Got a lonely beta? Bring it along to lunch.

Bring Along a Service Animal
The biggest exception to the Food Code's no-animals rule is made for service animals. This is backed up by state and federal legislation protecting the right of all citizens with disabilities to bring their service animals into restaurants. In Arizona, only dogs and miniature horses qualify as service animals under state law.

Technically speaking, service animals aren't pets. Rather, they are specially trained animals that help their owners to perform major life tasks, says Carrie Ann McCanless of the National Service Animal Registry. Arizona law outlines these tasks to include things like helping the blind to navigate and alerting the hard of hearing to sound, but also pulling wheelchairs, assisting individuals with seizure disorders, retrieving items such as medicine or a telephone for those who couldn't otherwise do so, and assisting those with psychiatric or neurological disorders in curbing destructive or impulsive behaviors.

McCanless says it's important to understand the difference between a service animal and an emotional support dog. Emotional support dogs are not service animals, she says. Service animals help their owners to deal with situations that could otherwise be life threatening, she says, and only in extreme cases do emotional support issues reach that level. A dog that helps with general anxiety is not a service animal, but a dog assisting someone with severe PTSD who might undergo a dangerous flashback episode could qualify as a service animal, McCanless says.

Emotional support animals do get some special treatment under the law. They can fly with their owners on an airplane, and they are allowed to live in otherwise no-pet housing, McCanless says -- but they are not allowed in restaurants. In fact, Arizona law specifically states, "the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship do not constitute work or tasks," the distinguishing actions required to make a dog or miniature horse a service animal.

Even traditional service animals can be excluded from restaurants at times. If an animal poses a health or safety threat, or "fundamentally alters the nature of the public place or the goods, services or activities provided," the law says, then it can be prohibited from entering. The federal government makes it clear that this second scenario is rare--it might include a dog barking so loudly as to interrupt a movie--and would rarely exempt a restaurant from its mandate to allow service animals inside.

And a service animal should rarely pose a safety threat to anyone, McCanless says. "The main thing is the training of the animal. If it's a service animal, it needs to be so well behaved that people don't even know it's there in the restaurant," she says.

My Voice Nation Help
34 comments
Princess Amanda
Princess Amanda

Really Robert Lopez. So my options are still OHSO or to lie or to become a police officer or my favorite, to get a fish. I give Phoenix the paw on its pet friendliness.

Christine Nimitz
Christine Nimitz

Pretend your dog is a service dog? Lame. Terrible article, although it outlines exactly how dog-unfriendly Phx is.

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

dining with beasts because they are mankind's equal in your eyes. Why not eat out of a trough along with your four legged lover. Absurd and disgusting. Never thought id see the day that a home could raided by pigs because of two dead rabbits. You promote police militarization and loss of private rights.

Heather Bradbury-Spring
Heather Bradbury-Spring

I saw a kid have allergic reaction to being placed in a shopping cart because some person placed their dog in there and the dog drooled all over the cart. Unless it is a licensed service animal I think it's crap to force others into accepting your "fur kid" as one who has the same rights as a human child. I have 6 animals and they all are perfectly healthy and happy to stay home while I go out to shop/eat.

Darlene Hayden
Darlene Hayden

This was the dumbest article. I simply just take them to a dog friendly patio when the weather allows

Angie Rivera
Angie Rivera

Faking a service animal is a crime. I'm going to take my dog to training to get him certified as an Emotional Support Animal, and the fake vests and lying makes the process difficult for people that need a legitimate service dog or ESA.

Peg Wolfe
Peg Wolfe

Enough with the stupid listicles, NT. "Pretend Your Pet is a Service Animal"? Really??

Tatjana Grzenia
Tatjana Grzenia

If a dog is well-behaved and not a nuisance, why not?

Nic Smith
Nic Smith

Jamie Peffley places to eat with Pocket

Brenda Hayes
Brenda Hayes

I prefer Paris, there when people dine out, they leave their kids at home, but take their dogs. perfect.

Christy Lynn
Christy Lynn

Victoria Strubbe Kimberly Anne MacDonald Stephanie Prezgar Kyle Unfug \U0001f618

Diane Kowaleski
Diane Kowaleski

What a silly law. There are children who cause more problems and noise. In France, it is common to visit both casual and upscale restaurants with your 4 legged friend. In fact, it is a good way to break the ice.

Matt Diamond
Matt Diamond

Hey, it's The Main Ingredient! ;) Cool- thanks guys!

Justin Stewart-Maynard
Justin Stewart-Maynard

Or just go to OHSO, drink great beer, eat great food and solve all y our problems!

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