The Mississippi State Department of Health has created a new policy allowing pet dogs to be present at restaurants and other food facilities under specific conditions.
MSDH has examined policies in other states and believes with the proper hygienic conditions public health can be protected, and local businesses wanting to accommodate their clientele can be supported.
OWNERS: This policy takes effect Friday, November 1, 2019. Check local and county ordinances to ensure that dog-friendly restaurants are not otherwise prohibited.
- View the full requirements for dog-friendly areas
- Submit a variance application for dog-friendly areas (online form)
Conditions to Ensure Public Health
- No pet dogs will be allowed inside a food facility (with the exceptions of service animals).
- A separate outside entrance to the designated outdoor dog-friendly area must be established.
- All tableware in the area must be disposable.
- Pet dogs will not be allowed to come in contact with serving dishes, utensils, tableware, linens or any other items involved in food service operations.
- Pet dogs must be kept on a leash at all times, and employees may not touch or handle the animal.
- Employees who do come into contact with a pet dog should immediately wash their hands.
- Any accident involving dog waste must be cleaned up immediately and the area sanitized with appropriate products provided by the restaurant.
Permits and Inspections
All restaurants that wish to establish a dining area where dogs are permitted must first submit an application to the Mississippi State Department of Health. Once MSDH receives the application and relevant fee, an inspection of the facility will take place to ensure that dog-friendly requirements are met.
Restaurants with dog-friendly dining areas will be inspected at least twice a year.
- The restaurant or food facility can deny service if the pet owner fails to exercise reasonable control over the pet dog, or if it behaves in a manner that compromises the health or safety of any person in the restaurant. Failure to comply with the policy could result in a lower inspection grade for the facility or revocation of its permit variance for dog-friendly areas.
- These restaurants must have proper signage defining areas where dogs are permitted.
For more information about this policy, contact the MSDH Food Protection division at (601) 576-7689.