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— The city of Naples is one paw closer to having a doggy dining law on the books.

Naples City Council on Wednesday voted 5-2 to allow dogs at restaurants with outdoor dining.

Councilwoman Dee Sulick and Councilman Gary Price cast the dissenting votes.

The ordinance creates an exemption to state law – which forbids pets from entering a restaurant – and will allow dogs in the outdoor dining areas that have received a permit.

State code doesn’t allow pets at restaurants because of health concerns. But in 2006 a state bill changed that, and created an exemption process for local governments wanting to become more pet friendly.

The law – dubbed the Dixie Cup Clary Local Control Act after former state Sen. Charlie Clary’s dog Dixie Cup – gives local governments the ability to issue permits for restaurants interested in allowing dogs to dine with their owners.

Restaurants would need to follow specific rules to get permits, like having hand sanitizer on outdoor tables and signs reminding customers to wash their hands.

The city is proposing $15 a year for restaurants seeking a permit, both for the initial permit and for annual renewals.

The permitting process would likely occur when restaurants request an outdoor seating permit, said Robin Singer, the city’s planning director.

Collier County in 2008 changed its animal control ordinance to accommodate outdoor dining.

And while county ordinances generally only apply to unincorporated parts of the county, several restaurants in downtown Naples already allow dogs in the outside seating area.

“Please be advised that the owners, merchants and restaurateurs on Third Street South are overwhelmingly in favor of this proposed ordinance,” Tony Ridgway, president of the Third Street South Merchants Association, said in a May 31 letter to council.

“Many of our best patrons love to bring their dogs along to enjoy the many pleasures offered by the establishments on Third Street. Please allow us to welcome all our favorite friends – human and canine – by passing this ordinance.”

Price said he felt the creation of the law was a waste of city staff’s time, especially when the enforcement and permitting process come into play.

“We’ve been functioning for 50 years with pets and kids and other things,” Price said. “You talk about a knee-jerk reaction. Did we not operate OK for 50 years without this?”

The law could go into effect later this month if approved on second, and final, reading.

Connect with reporter Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster at www.naplesnews.com/staff/jenna-buzzacco

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