- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 4, 2006

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — At just 1 year old, Theo had already turned to a life of crime.

The tiny Yorkie would sneak into restaurants inside his owner’s bag, usually undetected, but he and Marcy Richardson occasionally were kicked out.

Now Miss Richardson, 26, and Theo can stop worrying and start chowing down.

Gov. Jeb Bush on Friday signed the so-called “doggie dining” bill, which allows local governments to let restaurants permit dogs to eat with their owners outside.

Florida health regulations previously prevented all dogs except service animals from joining patrons al fresco, although several restaurants ignored the rules until local regulators started cracking down last year.

Rep. Sheri McInvale, an Orlando Republican, filed the bill after some complained they were threatened with fines. Allowing dogs to dine will be up to each county, and even if it is allowed, restaurant owners ultimately will decide whether to participate.

Mr. Bush said the bill will allow dog lovers and their pets to “have a brewski together, have a hot dog together or whatever they want outdoors.”

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