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Posted on: October 2, 2019

City Code Amended for New “Dining with Dogs” Law

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At their Sept. 30 meeting, the San Marcos City Council repealed section 18.120 of the San Marcos Code of Ordinances in response to a new state law (Senate Bill 476) regulating dining with dogs that passed during the recent 86th Texas Legislative Session.

“San Marcos has a very pet-friendly atmosphere and it’s great that the new state law allows pet owners across Texas to dine with their loyal four-legged friends without a separate local ordinance being enacted,” said Stacy Wright, Environmental Health Manager. “This should be good news to both food establishments with outdoor dining areas and pet owners who frequent those businesses.”

Senate Bill 476, which became effective Sept. 1, includes the following key requirements for establishments to be compliant with the new law:

  • 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.

In 2015, the San Marcos City Council passed its own “Dining with Dogs” ordinance to establish a variance process to allow dogs in outside areas of restaurants and had included many of the elements in Senate Bill 476 within that ordinance. State law at the time prohibited dogs from being present at food establishments without a variance being granted by the local health authority.

The new state law requirements are available at If you have questions, please contact the City of San Marcos Environmental Health Division at 512.393.8444 or




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