No dogs allowed — in the bar

CARSON CITY — Chances are, the beast sitting on the bar stool next to you won’t be a real dog.

A measure heard Monday by the Senate Government Affairs Committee seeks to allow operators of stand-alone bars, saloons and taverns to allow dogs inside their establishments without interference from local government overseers.

But county health officials testified against Senate Bill 105, sponsored by Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden.

Settelmeyer introduced the bill at the request of Karen Woodmansee, editor of the Virginia City News in Storey County. She also works at a local casino.

In a letter to the committee, Woodmansee said allowing man’s best friend to accompany their human companions into bars would benefit tourism.

“More and more tourists are traveling with their pets,” she wrote. While some hotels in larger cities offer kennels, Virginia City doesn’t provide such services.

“During times of extreme heat or cold, there is no place for a visitor to go and rest if they have a dog with them,” Woodmansee said.

Some restaurants allow people to bring their dogs into outside patio areas.

But bringing them inside is a different matter, county health officials argued, saying it comes down to sanitation and public health.

“Dogs in any food establishment is just not good public health,” said Robert Sack with the Washoe County Health District.

There’s hair, bodily fluids (think slobber), and behavioral issues to consider.

“We don’t want them contaminating clean dishes,” Sack said.

Dan Musgrove, representing Southern Nevada Health District, agreed.

Free-standing bars “are serving something to the public where you have to have clean surfaces,” Musgrove said.

“I’m an animal lover from birth,” he said, but added, “we just can’t allow them inside.”

Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, also raised a safety issue.

He noted that as a former meter reader — a job that brought him into daily contact with canines — “the only dog that bit me was one that doesn’t bite.”

No action was taken by the committee.

Contact Sandra Chereb at or 775-687-3901. Find her on Twitter: @SandraChereb.

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