Guess who’s coming to dinner now?

By Adrienne Sakyi

In Florida this week, a proposed bill is stirring up controversy. You may ask yourself, “What is this controversy? Does it have to do with the War in Iraq (or on Terror or The Long War or whatever it is being called)? Does this new bill have to do with outrageous gas prices? Does this bill deal with the rising cost of education expenses and the declining amount of financial aid?” The answer to all of your questions is no.

The proposed bill will allow individual cities in Florida to decide whether to allow dogs at outdoor restaurants, and it has created an outrage from cat owners who say that the bill is discriminatory against felines. Currently, the rule is that no dog is allowed anywhere in a restaurant except for seeing eye dogs. I wish that someone would send a national memo.

As a hostess at A1A Ale Works, there have been many customers who bring dogs to the restaurant. Some try to trick me into letting them stay. “It’s not a dog…really.” Others try to hide the dog. “No, that barking is not coming out of my over-sized tote bag with the mesh screen so my pet can breathe.” In the end, the manager has to inform the customers about our policies and they usually leave miffed.

Now, let me say I have never witnessed a cuter sight than a puppy. With their wet noses, big eyes and unbridled affection, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think puppies are cute. Regardless, puppies, kittens and other adorable pets are still animals.

There are several things wrong with this newly proposed bill. Firstly, I must have missed the part of the Constitution that granted pets the same protection against discrimination that is given to humans.

Secondly, I still don’t understand why it is imperative that peoples’ dogs join them at dinner. There is rarely a purpose to taking a dog to dinner. Sure, it’s cute and maybe the dog can get lonely at home, but concerns like sanitation in restaurants and the protection of other diners should outweigh Spot’s social life.
Lastly, where do we draw the line of what would constitute pet discrimination? Bird owners might want to take their birds to a restaurant and my beloved pet rat GiGi would love to join me for dinner at the Sunset Grill this weekend.

I will admit that during freshman year in the dorms I went through pet withdrawals. I frequently made friends with strangers just so I could pet their puppies. I even bought my roommate a hermit crab so we could have an animal to play with in the room. I’m still not quite sure if that was allowed, but the point is that I understand the human bond with animals.

So don’t call PETA and get me on the “Animal-haters to douse with paint” list because I don’t belong there. If PETA has a “Wants to eat a meal in a restaurant — not a zoo” list, then be sure to sign me up.

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