ORLANDO, Fla. -- Restaurants in unincorporated areas of Orange County may soon be able to allow pets on patios under an ordinance the county commission may consider this summer.

  • Pets may soon be allowed on restaurant patios
  • Orange Co. commissioners to discuss Tuesday
  • Pets prohibited from restaurants, unless local ordinance passed

The Orange County Board of County Commissioners discussed the idea at a workshop Tuesday.

While doggie dining may seem widespread and legal, it’s not.

According to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, pets are prohibited from restaurants, unless a local municipality has specifically passed an ordinance.

It’s a state law that has taken many restaurant owners by surprise, including Scott Anderson, owner of Black Rock Bar and Grill in unincorporated Orange County.

“I really was not aware of a lack of ordinance until a few weeks ago,” Anderson said, adding that he believes allowing pets on the patio increases business for his restaurant. “(Without the ordinance) there would be a negative impact because people nowadays are more active and engaged with their dogs.”

The cities of Orlando, Winter Park and Winter Garden are among those that have ordinances in place. Restaurants can obtain a permit from their respective city to allow pets in outdoor areas. Pets are still banned from inside of restaurants.

Stina D’Uva, CEO of West Orange Chamber of Commerce, says many restaurant owners were surprised by an often overlooked Florida law.

“People just did it, thinking it was something they could do, but when a state health inspector visited, the issue came up,” D’Uva said.


Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs is spearheading the effort to get an ordinance in place. A county spokeswoman says the effort has been a year in the making to research and develop an ordinance.

Any such move would first need approval from the county’s planning and zoning commission once an ordinance is drafted.

If they give the OK, the county commission could take up a vote by August at the earliest. ​If recommended, it will then go to the Board of County Commissioners for approval, and then it will go to a public hearing.