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NEW YORK — The annual celebration of Fido has an added significance in New York this year.
Friday is the first “National Dog Day” to be held after a law was passed allowing dogs to accompany their owners in restaurant’s outdoor dining areas.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill in October, amending the state’s public health law to relax the rules regarding dogs and dining. Previously, only service dogs were allowed to accompany owners to restaurants, both indoor and outdoor areas.
Restaurants that allow customers’ dogs are required to follow certain health and safety guidelines, and must display a sign alerting people that canines can dine there, too.
The city’s Health Department finalized a set of rules in March for restaurants that are participating in the “dining with dogs” rule.
“The health and safety of every New Yorker is our priority,” health commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement in March. “These new rules ensure that restaurant patrons can bring their dogs to outdoor areas, while also keeping other diners protected."
Animal advocates and restaurants in the city celebrated the new law Friday. Vero Outdoor Cafe on the Upper West Side created a special menu for the day so dogs and their owners could celebrate and eat together.
While dogs in the city are already required to be licensed and vaccinated against rabies, restaurants do not need to check with each customer whether their dogs are properly protected. Restaurants must also ensure that food is prepared separately and indoors, that employees don't pet the dogs while working, and dogs are in control and out of the way.
The law does not extend to other types of pets, including cats.