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It’s Patio Season In Mpls., And Dogs Are Increasingly Welcome

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(credit: CBS) Mike Binkley
Mike Binkley has been covering Minnesota news for more than 25 year...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Restaurant patios are getting crowded now, and it’s more common than ever to see dogs at some of the outdoor tables.

Since 2008, Minneapolis has given restaurants the option of allowing dogs in designated outdoor areas.

Bri Sharkey-Smith lives in the North Loop where several restaurants, including Smack Shack, have welcomed her dog, Ellie May.

“Anywhere Ellie gets a treat, that’s where I’m going to go,” Sharkey-Smith said. “I know she’s a little chubby, but if she gets a treat for going, I’m going to show up over and over again.”

SidewalkDog.com is an online directory of dog-friendly businesses in the Twin Cities. Its list of restaurants surpassed the 100 mark for the first time this week.

Joe Caldiero is the general manager of Wilde Roast, along the riverfront. He said he has no doubt the policy has brought in new customers from nearby apartments and condos.

“They could be walking down the river and they see dogs already sitting out here and come over for lunch,” he said. “Some of the customers actually order little side plates of chicken for their dogs.”

The Minneapolis ordinance says the dogs can only be at outside tables and they have to be on the ground, on a leash. Servers should have water dishes available, but they’re not supposed to pet the dogs.

Ali Jarvis is the founder of SidewalkDog.com.

“We really stress responsibility,” she said, “so we don’t advocate that every dog owner takes their dog out to eat with them.”

Jarvis offers an online guide to patio etiquette.

“You don’t want a dog that’s reactive to other dogs that are nearby,” she said. “You don’t want a dog that’s going to be jumping on the table. And really, honestly, you have to be ready and willing to leave if it’s causing other customers a problem.”

She also hopes people use common sense, and leave the dogs at home on those hot sunny days, unless the patio is shaded.

The state of Minnesota passed a 2008 law allowing restaurants in other communities to provide outdoor accommodations for dogs, but only after the individual city passes its own ordinance, as Minneapolis did.

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