Are dogs allowed in restaurants, grocery stores in Illinois? Here’s what state law says

If you’ve ever wondered whether you can bring your pet dog into the grocery store on the way back from the park, you might want to check Illinois state law and local ordinances first.

While service animals have public access rights to enter grocery stores, restaurants and other establishments, companion or pet dogs may only enter dog-friendly buildings.

Service animals are trained to perform a specific task to help mitigate a person’s documented disability. Therapy dogs and emotional support animals play different roles and do not have the inherent right to enter places that are not dog-friendly, though therapy dogs may be invited to enter hospitals, schools or other locations to volunteer.

Here’s what to know about Illinois state law and Belleville ordinances concerning pet dogs in public places.

What does Illinois state law say?

Municipalities with at least 1 million residents can enact ordinances to allow dogs in outdoor dining areas, according to Illinois law, but the statute does not include a relevant provision for smaller cities. The ordinance must meet certain requirements and comply with food sanitation laws.

State law continues to say “no companion dog shall be present in the interior of any restaurant or in any area where food is prepared.” The law does not specify whether dogs are allowed in grocery stores that do not have food preparation areas.

Missouri state law differs, and the St. Louis area has a cafe that allows dogs inside, as well as a number of dog-friendly bars.

Restaurant owners may be able to obtain a permit to allow dogs and charge a fee for dog entry in Illinois, and localities may also enact their own ordinances pertaining to dogs in public places.

The city of Belleville does not have a specific ordinance about dogs in restaurants or grocery stores, but does have one regulating dogs in other places.

“Pets or other animals shall not be allowed in the confines of any city approved public event, including, but not limited to, school picnics, parades, sidewalk fairs, organized events and activities scheduled on the public square/downtown area, open to the public,” the Belleville municipal code says. “The following types of animals are excluded from this section: seeing eye dogs and other working animals; animals participating in the public event; animals approved by the sponsoring group.”

Violation of the Belleville ordinance is considered a petty offense.

Even if your municipality doesn’t address the subject of pets in grocery stores, you may want to call ahead and check with individual businesses before coming in with your companion dog. Many grocery stores, including Walmart, Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Schnucks and others have policies prohibiting dogs that are not service animals.