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Table for Two? N.Y. OKs Dogs in Restaurants' Outdoor Dining Areas

by Associated Press /

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ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York's pooches will be able to venture onto restaurant patios under a new state law that will allow restaurants to open their outdoor dining areas to canine companions.

The measure was signed into law late Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. States including California, Florida and Maryland already have similar laws.

Dog lovers and many restaurant owners in New York support the idea, noting that the animals would have to be leashed and that restaurants could choose not to allow canines.

Image: dining with dogs
Marni Turner, and her 10-year-old Poodle "Dougie," visit at an outdoor cafe on New York's Upper West Side on May 19, 2015. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a new state law Monday that will allow restaurants to legally open their outdoor dining areas to dogs.Richard Drew / AP, file

"This action will give restaurants an additional option to boost revenue and grow their businesses by appealing to this new audience of dog-owning New Yorkers and their four-legged friends," Cuomo said. "By allowing this additional flexibility and by establishing firm health and sanitary guidelines, this legislation strikes a right balance."

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New York City dog owner Kim Wolf said she is thrilled by the new law. Wolf, who works for an organization that helps dog owners in poor neighborhoods care for their animals, said many restaurants already allow dogs in outdoor eating areas.

"I think this speaks volumes to where we are as a society and how most people with dogs view them as members of the family," she said. She predicted few problems with the new law. "People are responsible. We have to be respectful."

Legislation intended to help New York's felines didn't fare so well. Cuomo vetoed a proposal to fund organizations that trap and neuter feral cats and then release them back into the wild.

In his veto, the Democratic governor noted that another law already makes it a misdemeanor to release wild cats into the environment. He also noted that feral felines pose a significant threat to local wildlife such as birds.

"Although the goal of this bill is laudable, it is problematic for several reasons," Cuomo said.

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A Siena College poll released last week suggests dog owners may have more political clout anyway. The survey found that 57 percent of New Yorkers consider themselves "dog people" while 17 percent call themselves "cat people."

Overall, 42 percent of respondents say they have a pet. Thirty percent have a dog, 20 percent live with a cat, and 10 percent live with at least one of each.

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