Last updated on August 24th, 2017 at 08:58 pm

What every food service operator needs to know about Dining with Service and Companion Dogs

**Service dogs – Any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability
**Companion dogs– Pets

The Breakdown

PHL Sec.1352-e gives owners the option to allow companion dogs in outdoor areas.  Operators MAY choose to allow companion dogs in outdoor areas, however operators MUST allow service dogs in ALL dining  areas.

service-dogs-in-restaurantsIf you Choose to allow Companion Dogs – These are the Rules

A sign must be posted with the following language

“Companion dogs are only allowed in certain outdoor dining area(s) of this establishment. Only service dogs are allowed in other parts of this establishment.  Your companion dog must be licensed and currently vaccinated against rabies to remain in the outdoor dining area with you.  You are responsible for controlling your dog at all times.”

****If you choose not to allow companion dogs you not have to post any sign

  • Companion dogs must remain “under the control of the owner”
  • the dog is on the floor, within arms length of the owner;
  • on a leash securely held by the owner, tied to a table or chair leg, or in a crate.
  • If you choose to allow Companion Dogs they are still NOT allowed in any area that is not an outdoor dining area.
  • If the outdoor area abuts a sidewalk, you must create some sort of barrier to limit contact between dogs and people on the sidewalk.

 Rules for Service AND Companion Dogs

  • They cannot obstruct 36inch aisle space between tables in unenclosed sidewalk cafes
  • They must not be allowed to touch any dining table surfaces.
  • Animal nuisances must be removed immediately by establishment employees that do not prepare or serve food, and disposed of in accordance with the law.
  • Areas contaminated with such nuisances must be cleaned and sanitized immediately upon removal.
  • An operator must ask the owner to remove a dog that threatens or bites any person. Any person that refuses to comply shall not be served.
  • An operator must report to the Health Department any bite or injury to a person within 24 hours of injury.
  • Report must include– name, address, and phone number of the person bitten
  • If owner refuses to give any of the above info call 911 immediately after injury


***Important things to know about Service Dogs

  • You cannot demand proof that the animal is certified
  • You cannot ask about the nature of the person’s disability
  • You can ask if the animal is required because of a disability and work the animal has been trained to perform