THE raging debate over whether pet dogs should be allowed to join their owners in cafes has been settled once and for all, with Sunshine Coast Council deciding to let shop owners decide their own policy.
The issue has been a topic of heated argument for years, with dog lovers suggesting their beloved companions should be allowed beside them at coffee shops.
Opponents argued that patrons must be free to enjoy an outing without fear of intrusion by a stranger's pet.
The council's policy clarification comes after the Australian Government amended the Australian Food Standards Code last October, to now provide "food business operators with a choice to either permit dogs in their outdoor dining areas or prohibit them from the area".
However, the changes to the national guidelines do not circumvent council bylaws, so dog-friendly cafes will need to erect signage to state their position.
"If a cafe owner wishes to allow dogs in their outdoor dining area they must erect a sign in order to comply with the local law about dogs in public places," a council spokeswoman said.
"Without a sign the outdoor dining area is deemed to be a prohibited place for dogs.
"There's no specific sign that is right or wrong.
"It's being clear in the message. As long as there's a sign that advises dogs are allowed there."
The spokeswoman said the council was yet to receive feedback from business owners about the policy.
"It intends to work with the business community to ensure they understand their responsibility in this matter," she said.
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