Iowa takes FDA ruling on dogs, restaurants in stride

Iowa takes FDA ruling on dogs, restaurants in stride
Published: Jun. 4, 2023 at 11:10 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Thanks to a recent update to FDA guidelines, it’s official: restaurants can have dogs in outdoor areas.

The guidance came late last year, and stipulated restaurants have to have approval from local regulators. The update clears up the legal landscape in which different states had a variety of rules, but it likely won’t cause too much of a ripple in Iowa. According to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA), the state changed its code back in 2020 to allow restaurants to host pets on patios without a waiver from the department.

“We’re happy to keep the pets coming,” said Taylor Lillibridge at Goldfinch in Marion. “As long as I’ve been employed, we’ve always been a dog friendly space.”

Dana Harbas, a manager at 30Hop, said being a dog-friendly space was good for business. “I think that it brings more people in.”

There is a long list of rules that restaurants have to follow including 1) dogs can’t get to the patio by walking through the restaurant and 2) while on duty, employees can’t have contact with pets.

“We definitely do a good job of making sure that we’re meeting all the requirements,” said Lillibridge. “We’ve haven’t had any issues and pet owners have been very responsible.”

Not all restaurants in the area host pets, but those who do say it’s a big draw for customers.

“I would say that maybe you should look at them, not as a pet, but as a child,” said Lillibridge. “I don’t have children but I have four furballs at home so, as a pet mom, I would like to be able to bring my fur babies with me.”