SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. - Delaware Division of Public Health published a Facebook post on August 2nd to remind restaurants that the food code forbids non-service animals from being inside of their establishments. 

Pets used to accompany their owners to the outdoor patio at Irish Eyes until reminder was published. DPH says this is no update and that in the past inspectors have just not strictly enforced the outdoor portion of the food code.
 

"We know some of the dogs names and not even their owners names," says Manager Kristin Johnson. "That's how frequently they're here."

Server Tina Chaippini adds that business has been down. "A lot of the regulars bring their dogs because they can."

Representative Pete Schwartzkopf says he used to take his dog, Maddy, out to eat with him. "Kids from far away that are here on vacation would come up here and pet her because they missed their animals at home," he says.
 
Scwartzkopf empathizes with the restaurants and feels that more enforcement of this regulation will hinder the tourism industry. "Some of these people come here with their animals. They're not allowed to leave them in the rented homes, so they have to take them with them," he says. 
 

While there are some exceptions to the live animals allowed at restaurants, Schwartzkopf doesn't think these are any more sanitary than people's pets. "You're not allowed to have live animals in a restaurant. That's it. That's what it says. There are some exceptions to that and some of them don't even make any sense, like live bait is an exception. Live bait is nasty and they're allowing that into a restaurant?"

DPH says the Facebook post that generated all of this attention was as a result of a non-service animal inside of a restaurant. The agency says that it only meant to issue a reminder and that it did not mean to indicate that it was changing practice." 
 
Carolyn and Luke Skinner, visiting from North Carolina, agree that only service animals should be allowed near where food is served. "Service dogs are definitely ok. As far as other pets, unless they're really well trained and follow commands real well," says Luke. 
 
"You have different types of dogs that could be aggressive," adds Carolyn Skinner
 
 
Meanwhile Irish Eyes says it misses its dog customers and hopes that legislators will help get them back in.
 
Representative Schwartzkopf says he'll be reaching out to the agency to see if there is any legislation to be worked on. 
"You have a regulation that has not been enforced for a long time, get rid of it."
 
DPH says it has already been reviewing the food code to identify potential revisions needed to remain consistent with federal guidelines and public health best practices.d