Dining with Dogs

New State Law Governing Dining With Dogs (Senate Bill 476)

Effective September 1, 2019, fixed food establishments in San Marcos may choose to allow dogs in the outside dining areas provided the following requirements of Senate Bill 476 (State Law) are met:

  • A sign is posted in a conspicuous location in the outside dining area stating that dogs are permitted;
  • The customer and the dog access the outside dining area directly from the exterior of the establishment;
  • The dog does not enter the interior of the establishment;
  • The customer keeps the dog on a leash and controls the dog;
  • The customer does not allow the dog on a seat, table, countertop, or similar surface; and
  • In the outside dining area where dogs are permitted, the establishment does not prepare food or permit open food other than the food being served to the customer.

Senate Bill 476, as passed by the Texas State Legislature and signed by the Governor, preempts cities from enforcing an ordinance or rule that is more stringent than State Law.  On August 18, 2015, the City Council of San Marcos passed a local ordinance allowing for a variance from the Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER) to allow for dogs on the outdoor patios of food establishments.  As of August 15, 2019, the City of San Marcos is reviewing its local ordinance to determine compliance with Senate Bill 476.  In the interim, the Environmental Health Division will only be enforcing the provisions of Senate Bill 476.  Please contact the Environmental Health Division at (512) 393-8444 or email at Healthinfo@sanmarcostx.gov if you have questions related to dogs at food establishments.

Council Ruling

As per city council, August 18, 2015

Any food establishment with an outdoor eating area may apply for a variance waiving the prohibition against dogs on premises of a food establishment. The variance to allow dogs on the premises of a food establishment's outdoor patio area will be granted if the City Environmental Health Division determines a health hazard or nuisance will not result. The establishment must pay a non-refundable application fee of two hundred ($200) dollars. A variance granted under this section is nontransferable and shall be reviewed biannually.

These signs shall be issued by the Environmental Health department upon granting of the variance.

Dog Access sign

Variance Approvals

The following establishment have received variance approval for allowing dogs in designated areas on the premises.
  • Railyard
  • Sean Patricks
  • Ivar's River Pub