Health department offers guidance to Utah County restaurants regarding pets

Posted at 9:50 PM, Mar 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-29 23:50:16-04

PROVO, Utah -- The Utah County Health Department is in the process of alerting restaurants when they should and shouldn't allow animals inside.

"We're seeing a lot more people who are just wanting to have their pet, which they love, which is OK, but they want to have them in a restaurant, which is against the law," said Todd Berguson of Provo.

Berguson is one of several Utah County residents who has pushed the health department to crack down on pets in restaurants.

"I have pets. I just don't want them where I'm eating," Berguson said.

Utah County agreed pets being taken out to eat is becoming a concern.

"Definitely within the last year or so we've received calls from restaurants wanting guidance and five or 10 years ago we weren't receiving those types of calls," said Tyler Plewe, with Utah County Health Department.

Restaurant owners said they often find themselves trapped in the middle between the ADA and the FDA.

"You want to give people the benefit of the doubt because if they do have a disability and they need that animal you want to accommodate them as well as you can," said Hanna Bergevin of ABG's Bar.

However, Bergevin also said there are times when people obviously lie about a disability just so they can bring their pet inside, which can cause a number of problems.

"We'll turn around and it’s walking around the bar, it's standing on the stage, people are petting it and the guy is playing pool or something not even paying attention to it," Bergevin said of animals brought into the restaurant.

The county is delivering a letter to 1,700 plus restaurants letting them know their rights when it comes to allowing animals.

"They have a right to ask does a person have a disability, not what type," Plewe said. "They also have a right to ask if the dog has been trained, is it a service animal."

The county said even if it is a legitimate service animal, the restaurant has the final say whether they can stay.

"The restaurants can make an exception if they feel that there is a health risk," Plewe said.