ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg city leaders are fighting to keep its pet friendly status despite a recently filed bill that would ban animals from certain places.
“We’re not supporting the bill so we’re monitoring that one,” said St. Petersburg Community Services Director Susan Ajoc.
If House Bill 243 passes this upcoming legislative session, it would keep pets from being inside of restaurants, even just to walk through them to get outside. It would also create a website for pet complaints.
“We’re going to get the word out that this bill is out there and the potential impact,” said Ajoc.
St. Petersburg prides itself on its reputation for being welcoming to animals.
Last year Mayor Rick Kriseman officially declared St. Petersburg to be a pet friendly city.
For the past few months officials have worked to enhance that reputation, with its Paws Initiative.
That initiative includes 32 groups that all sit on a committee to focus on certain goals, like making sure pets and their people have access to green space, talking to apartment complexes and condos about their pet restrictions, and encouraging business owners to be more welcoming to animals.
“We’re celebrating businesses that allow access for pets and also what are some things that they can do adjacent in the public right of way to make it easier for pet parents to keep their pets with them,” said Ajoc.
The city is also working to have more businesses provide bag dispensers for pet waste, and adding more water bowls outside for animals to drink from as they walk through St. Petersburg.
“We can, we can all live together and we can do it without impacting your personal space,” said Ajoc.
Leaders have taken a stand against this bill, and have reached out to representatives to get more understanding about the bill’s intent.
“In terms of that if there’s some concern about restaurants, pets aren’t allowed inside restaurants already. Our Doggy Dining Ordinance that we have in St. Petersburg allows for the pets but they’re outside and they’re not in areas where the food is prepared, said Ajoc.
City officials believe this bill could have a negative impact on its economy.
“It would be a shame, I think there would be an outcry from our community and not just ours but I think many communities that realize the impact that pets have on people,” said Ajoc.
In the meantime leaders will continue making St. Petersburg more pet friendly.
The city will be awarding six business on Friday afternoon with the Pet Friendly Business Certification.