Restaurant owners, managers or just curious patrons:

In the state of Nebraska, dogs are not allowed inside or on the patios of restaurants, cafes, or bars. In August 2015, the Douglas County Health Department issued a new health code variance that states restaurants and cafes can apply for a permit to allow dogs on their patios.

Bar patios were not included in this variance. The reason being? The Board of Health wanted to be selective with the venues included in the variance, and restaurant patios were the venue chosen. With valid suggestions to the BOH on why bar patios should be included, we hope they will amend the variance to include them. However, majority support and reasoning to back this proposition must come from the owners/managers themselves, not just patrons. We have created a petition to get the ball rolling: Also, the BOH meets every third Wednesday of the month and it is open to the public. They open up the last few minutes of the meeting to the public – which would be a perfect time to propose a change to any existing laws and regulations! (hint, hint). 

What does a restaurant have to do to get approved for the permit? 

  1. Fill out the application: Application for Dog Friendly Patio Variance
  2. Pay $100 (annual fee)
  3. Make a list a-z and write out how you are going to address each item in the variance: Dog_Friendly_Patio_Variance_2015
  4. Contact Joe Gaube at DCHD. Direct phone # is: 402-444-7488

What are the KEY changes/additions you will need to do to prepare?

  1. Entrance to patio must be from the outside of restaurant/cafe. Dogs may not travel through inside to get to your patio.
  2. Install signage for patio with 1″ lettering with your policy. Check out Cantina Laredo’s sign.
  3. Add a portable hand-washing station to the patio. Here’s one we found.
  4. Sign up for a one-time only hour-long training for your staff on appropriate dog behavior. After the training, you can add a page from your takeaways in your employee handbook for future employees. The training must be provided by a person or entity that is recognized as an expert in animal behavior. For now, the Nebraska Humane Society has developed a training specifically designed to meet the requirements of the variance. Contact Dawn Thrapp @ when you’re ready.
  5. Purchase animal-friendly cleaning chemicals. Clean the patio with said chemicals once a day (only if dogs were present that day).

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us @

Live video footage of Open Forum – Pt. 1

Live video footage of Open Forum – Pt. 2

Why we think dogs should be allowed on patios?

  • Dogs are important life-companions and are often a catalyst to positive social interactions.
  • Drives consumerism and allows businesses access to an untapped customer base.
  • Outdoor patios represent an environment where vaccinated dogs do not pose health or sanitary concerns.
  • Promotes health benefits include exercise of walking to local establishments with dogs.
  • Creates an attractive, urban environment for residents and potential residents.
  • Pigeons, rodents, crows, etc already frequent patios, and this is not a health issue.
  • Many dogs are less obnoxious than patio patrons in Omaha. (jk of course)