Welcome to the restaurant, pup!

A Sunshine Coast campaign to allow dogs to sit with their owners at outdoor cafes in Queensland has been given a major paw up.

An online petition that will be submitted to Health Minister Paul Lucas next month has already collected close to 2000 signatures.

It has been supported by MPs Steve Dickson, Glen Elmes and Mark McArdle and the RSPCA.

Pups in Paradise has been pushing for a legislation change to the Food Act following outrage over Sunshine Coast Regional Council warnings that owners could face hefty fines for dining in the company of their best friends.

Dog owners can be fined $200 for taking pooches into designated dining areas, while cafe operators could be fined up to $2000 if a dog is found on a premises.

PIP member Keri Gazzard said all other first world countries allowed leashed dogs into cafes, hotels and even onto public transport.

“Other states in Australia allow leashed companion canines into alfresco cafes at the discretion of the cafe owner,” she said.

“These states have long realised the economic and health benefits of dog ownership.

“Queensland is behind the eight-ball on this issue.”

Ms Gazzard said taking a companion dog to an alfresco cafe with the cafe owner’s permission has a positive mental and physical health benefit for a person unable to get out into the community.

“On every single occasion I have taken my dogs to a cafe, I have been inundated by people wanting to pat and interact with the dogs,” she said.

“This provides me with social interaction.

“As the State Government is currently ‘enjoying’ (only) a 26% approval rating, I feel they need all the help you can get.

“If a cafe owner does not want dogs in the alfresco area then it should be up to them and not the government.

“The paw vote is large and effective and gaining support all the time.”

Ms Gazzard said dogs would be expected to sit next to or under the dog owner’s seat.

“The health reasons for these restrictions are nonsense, as dog ownership has been proven to be a boost to the immune system,” she said.

“You are far more likely to get an illness from a sick adult or child in a cafe than ever catch anything from a dog sitting under a table next to you.

“We agree that dogs should not be allowed to lick plates or eat from the table.”

The petition can be found at http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/.

Search for ‘allow companion dogs in cafes’ on the web page.

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