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Key West Decides Where Dogs Can Go

New ordinance concerns dogs at restaurants
By Karen B. London PhD, May 2010, Updated June 2021

Dogs in Key West have traditionally gone almost everywhere with their people, and that includes to many restaurants. People dining al fresco with dogs by their feet has long been a common sight on the island. Recently, a fine imposed by a new health inspector has changed this tradition, and dogs have been banned from one of the most popular canine hangouts in town. The Schooner Wharf Bar’s motto is “Hang with the big dogs” but now, dogs of all sizes are not allowed there.

 
A change in the current situation is possible, pending a proposed city ordinance that would allow dogs into the outdoor eating areas of restaurants that get a permit, follow the required health and safety requirements, and carry at least a million dollars in liability insurance. Dogs may soon go back to their traditional roles as dining partners on Key West.
 
Many people, including the mayor, support the ordinance, which simply legalizes the behavior that has been common practice on the island for many years.

 

 Image: iStock

Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life