Pet Friendly or Not?

More and more hotels and restaurants across the country are becoming pet friendly, and it’s not just on patios anymore…it’s inside too. Recently, one of our colleagues visited a local pet-friendly restaurant for a drink after work. The bartender handled a dog and prepared her a drink without washing her hands. Needless to say she was more than a little bothered.

This raises a concerning question about pet friendly establishments. Who keeps them in check when it comes to health codes and regulations, and how do we know if they are compliant?

Currently, there are no federal regulations that state whether or not your pet can dine with you. Local ordinances are the rule makers here. In 2006, Florida
adopted a “Doggie Dining Law”. This law states that cities can establish ordinances that allow the family dog (and ONLY a dog) onto restaurant patios (only if they do not have to travel through the restaurant to get there). Below are some of the conditions.

• Food service employees must not touch, pet or handle dogs while serving food or beverages
• Food service employees must wash their hands promptly after touching, petting or handling dogs
• Patrons must be advised to wash their hands before eating, and waterless hand sanitizer must be provided at each table

Dogs are considered man’s best friend, and some owners literally take them along everywhere. Hotels are catering to owners by opening their doors to travelers and their pets. Doing so increases the amount of time a guest stays in the hotel, and in turn increases revenue; however, the question that remains is who makes and enforces the rules?

A website for one hotel chain displays Terms and Conditions of staying with a pet in their hotels. Among those guidelines are rules including the requirement that pets must be on a leash when in public areas and are not allowed in areas where food or beverages are served. In addition, owners must pay for any pet-related cleaning expenses, and hang a “Pet in Room” sign which must remain on the door for the duration of their stay. After the guest’s departure, the hotel goes to great lengths to ensure that the room is allergen free. All bedding is dry-cleaned, the mattress protector is replaced and the carpet is heavily shampooed and vacuumed.

As meeting planners, we must step carefully when considering pet-friendly establishments. If you know that one of your clients has a pet allergy, it is important to contact your venue beforehand to find out their pet policies. While we give the chains credit for taking pet-related measures, how can we be sure that these steps are really being taken?

How do you feel about pet friendly hotels and restaurants? Do you consider booking pet friendly hotels or restaurants for meetings? If so, do you discuss the pet policies with the venue before signing a contract?

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3 Comments

Filed under General, Industry Takes

3 responses to “Pet Friendly or Not?

  1. Elizabeth

    I think animals in hotels are fine with a pet policy like the one you mentioned. If the carpets and bed are sanitized and all the dander is gone, I don’t see a problem. If you don’t allow animals into hotels, people might sneak them in and then you aren’t assured that anything will be appropriately cleaned.

    Great article.

  2. I don’t have pets and am not particularly a pet lover. BUT it is good to know that 1) pet policies are in place and 2) I’ll be sure to inquire before my next hotel stay.

    Now if only we could implement some “human” policies to keep hotel rooms sanitized!

    Definitely food for thought. Great blog.

  3. Chris

    Brenda brings up a good point – some people can be nastier than animals. Good blog Integress folks.

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