Nearly a month after the Northeast Texas Public Health District voted to allow restaurants to have pets on patios with an approved variance application, only one restaurant has filed an application. Jul's filed its application Monday morning. While there was mixed feelings about the measure, only those in favor of it spoke at the public hearing on Jan. 28.
"If people are interested, there are applications available," Ginger Wood, director of environmental health at NET Health, said.
Having pets on restaurant patios, with the exception of service animals, previously was considered a violation of Texas Food Establishment Rules. NET Health officials are allowing restaurants to deviate from specified rules through this application process. The health district would assess a $100 fee, and restaurants are required to reapply for the variance every year.
To get approved, establishments must consider rules for how pets can enter; signage and cleaning of the patio. Pets also must be on a leash or in a carrier and be current on rabies vaccinations.
Having pets on restaurant patios has been gaining interest by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of East Texas, which previously hosted Pooches on the Patio at Jul's and other restaurants, although NET Health had not yet approved the initiative.
Luci Davis, an SPCA volunteer, addressed the health district board at the Jan. 28 meeting and said the group wants to get support of more restaurants. Previous Pooches on the Patio fundraisers averaged about $500. The next event is set for March 8.
"It's a great way to get people out and enjoy a social event with their dogs," Ms. Davis said.
Last week, Jarrod Maness, general manager at Jul's, said he'd hoped the variance application would be approved before the March 8 event.
Ms. Wood said a restaurant in violation of Texas Food Establishment Rules might receive education upon notice of breaking established rules but would be subjected to penalties for repeated violations.