WICHITA FALLS, TX - Frank & Joe's in Wichita Falls is hoping to become a pet friendly coffee house. They even built an outdoor patio with the idea that that their customers could enjoy a latte or cappuccino while their furry friends relax and soak up some Texas sun.
However, according to the new business owners, the city of Wichita Falls has told Frank & Joe's that any animal would not be allowed on the patio unless it is a service animal of some sort.
"A lot of people feel like their pets are their family and they want to be able to take their pets with them in certain places," said Carol Murray of Frank & Joe's Coffee House.
Murray said she's hopeful that the city will adopt new rules and regulations that would help make business patios in Wichita Falls more pet friendly. Other cities have permitted restaurants and coffee houses to allow pet owning customers to enjoy their food or drink while their pet sits or lays down beside them.
"So for example, I know Dallas has a rule that if an animal uses the bathroom on the ground it must be picked up within five minutes. Then I believe we have to spray wash the floor and things like that," said Jessica Edwards of Frank & Joe's Coffee House.
Sitting on the currently pet-less patio of Frank & Joe's is Joel Smith of Burkburnett and Kristina Jones of Holliday. Smith is not a pet owner but he said he's supportive as long as businesses keep it clean.
"It would be great if animals were out here and I would trust they would take the right steps to keep the place sanitary," said Smith.
While Smith doesn't own any animals, his friend Kristina is the proud owner of a female Pit Bull. Jones argues that being able to bring her pet to the coffee house would help build a stronger bond between the two and possibly help her pup socialize more. Jones said her dog is healthy, safe, and caught up on all her shots.
"Every pet owner knows how to keep their dog clean and safe so I don't think that anyone would bring their pet here if they thought that they were going to be unsafe or put anyone in danger of something being gross," said Jones.
According to Edwards, the city seems willing to at least look at her proposals and has already contacted other municipalities with similar pet patio laws. Both Edwards and Murray said they believe the city could take some sort of action in September.
After meeting with city leaders over the last few weeks, Edwards was told that more regulations could mean the Health Department would need to hire more regulators to help enforce pet patio laws. Both Murray and Edwards were unsure if that could impact the city's budget. Edwards said she knows it won't be easy to change city laws and regulations but says that's expected.
"Anytime you are dealing with animals, you're going to have to follow the rules or it is not going to work," said Edwards.