McKinney restaurants want change to city's pet patio policy

Business owners in McKinney are fighting to allow patrons to have their pets on outdoor patios. A state law prevents several business owners from allowing pets where food is served.

William Chismon, the owner of Dempsey's in Downtown McKinney is dog-friendly. But you won't see any dogs around his patio — at least for now.

“We had a dog’s birthday party and the city was told about it,” he said. “They called me up very politely and informed me it was against the local laws to have dogs on a patio where food is being served.”

State law prohibits all dogs from being in dining areas of businesses where food is served except for service dogs. That includes outdoor patios.

Some cities like Plano, Dallas and Fort Worth passed a variance to make an exception, but McKinney isn't allowing it yet.

“Anytime you have animals, animal waste or animal fur — things of that nature around food, obviously there are health concerns,” explained Michael Quint, Director of Development Services for the city.

But it could be in the works. City council members have requested a work session on April 3 to discuss the matter.

It's something business owners like Craig Farrar of K9 Cookie Company would like to see.

“Why they're not allowed on the patio is beyond me,” he said. “Honestly, I'd rather be sitting on a patio with a dog than some people.”

And some customers agree with Farrar.

“I think it's just an old law that needs to get changed,” said customer Wendy Gallagher.

Businesses also say they've had to turn some customers with dogs away, and allowing dogs is good for business all around.

“If you can come here with your dog or your pet and eat lunch here, you'll shop here,” Chismon said. “We're kind of gambling on it and hoping that they let us do this.”

City officials say after the April work session, city council members could choose to move forward with a variance allowing dogs on patios or not. So far, officials say the feedback they've gotten from citizens is split.