DENVER — Restaurant patios might go to the dogs under a bill that cleared the Colorado Senate on Thursday.

While some restaurants already allow dogs to join their masters in restaurant patio settings, Sen. Kerry Donovan said there’s some debate about whether it actually is permissible to do so.

That’s why the Vail Democrat whose district includes Delta County introduced a bill to clarify that.

“Senate Bill 78 seeks to provide a little bit of clarity that restaurants can create dog-friendly patios if they so choose,” Donovan said. “Currently, the state is silent on this issue. It has caused confusion on both sides. Are you actually allowed to prohibit dogs, yes or no?”

Under the measure, which has bipartisan support, restaurants can decide for themselves if they want to allow the practice.

For those who do, it is incumbent on the pet owners to ensure they take full responsibility for the behavior of their dogs, including not allowing them on restaurant furniture and keeping them on a leash or in a pet carrier.

The bill also prohibits restaurant owners from letting dogs be in areas where food is being prepared and requires them to ensure pet owners are complying with any local laws related to sidewalks, public nuisances and sanitation.

“They can join you on the patio if they meet certain rules that will maintain a safe environment, and also a hygienic environment,” Donovan said. “It also says if you don’t want to allow dogs on patios, that is your choice as a business as well.”

The bill cleared the Senate on a bipartisan, 26-7 vote.

Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, was one of those who pooh-poohed the idea along with Sen. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican whose district includes Garfield County.

“Animals have their place, and they should stay there, and it’s not restaurants unless they are certified care dogs with appropriate identification,” Scott said.

The bill heads to the House for more debate.

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