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Patio Dogs Create ‘A Great Vibe’  

Patio Dogs Create ‘A Great Vibe’  

  • "Patio Dogs Create ‘A Great Vibe’" originally appeared in the July 2024 "City" issue of COMO Magazine.
Kylie Somraty and her pup, Coco.

Research shows that pets can improve the health of their humans. They reduce anxiety and stress with their calming presence. Their unconditional love promotes feelings of self-worth while tamping down feelings of loneliness. They give us a reason to exist because they rely on the care we provide them.  

With all this positivity, it’s no wonder that Columbia residents love sharing their homes and lives with fur, feather, or fin friends. But just how pet-friendly is downtown Columbia anyway?  

There Are Parks

Kevin Meyers, animal control supervisor for the city, knows a thing or two about pets.  

“I will say that Columbia in general is one of the most pet-friendly cities in Missouri,” Meyers says. “We have three large dog parks and several off-leash areas with plans to expand the Twin Lakes dog park to have an open area year-round for dogs of all sizes. We also have more pet rescues and pet-specific stores as compared to surrounding cities of comparable size.”  

There Are Patios

Dog parks are not the only way the city accommodates pets. It also makes way for pet-friendly patios for restaurants and bars.  

Health codes are designed to keep critters out of kitchens and dining rooms for sanitation purposes. But establishments can apply for a variance so customers can bring their dogs to dinner if those establishments have a patio. Of course, this privilege comes with responsibilities like required signage, cleaning protocols, and a space restriction of 50 percent of the entire patio space. Nonetheless, nearly every downtown restaurant that has a patio has jumped through those hoops.  

“We love to see dogs out front on our patio,” says Andrew DuCharme, general manager and part owner of Lakota Coffee Company. “It adds a great vibe to our downtown location.”  

Many of the pet-friendly patios don’t just accommodate their customers’ dogs. They also cater to them by offering water or treats. Glenn’s Café wait staff ask customers accompanied by their dogs if they want a disposable bowl of water. And Lakota offers a free “pup cup,” a tasty cup of whipped cream, if requested by their humans.  

And do dogs ever cause chaos? Eva Slitinska, Glenn’s front-of-house manager, says they’ve had a few minor incidents, but offering pet-friendly patio space is important to the community and worthwhile.  

“It does depend on the dogs and the customers who own them,” Slitinska says. “We’re lucky to have customers who are responsible for their dogs.”  

There Are Shops  

Accommodations are always made for service animals. But there are downtown retailers happy to let customers bring their regular pooches along. At Skylark Bookshop, for example, it’s common to find book browsers with their bowsers in tow. In fact, you might be greeted by Theo, the store’s resident pooch.  

There Are Apartments

Downtown is home to three institutions of higher education and the students they serve. Stephens College has been recognized by such national media as USA Today and the Today Show for its pet-friendly campus. Of course, a city license is also required for dogs, cats, and ferrets residing on campus.  

Mizzou allows dogs on leashes on its grounds, which is good news for pet owners who live near campus. But students at Mizzou and Columbia College cannot have pets in residence halls — fish and service animals excepted.  

Many of the downtown apartment spaces allow pets. Just expect to pay a little more for the privilege. For example, The Menser Building, managed by The Real Property Group, charges an additional $300 nonrefundable security deposit and a $25 surcharge on monthly rent if you have a resident pet. Plus, only small dogs are allowed.  

There Are Challenges

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of living downtown with a pet is not finding a great park to walk your dog. It’s finding a patch of grass where it can relieve itself during the daily routine.  

If you’re a student living in Brookside Downtown, you can be on Mizzou’s campus within a couple of minutes. But finding grass is not always that quick or easy.

Recent Mizzou grad Kylie Somraty lives and works at Rise on 9th. When her little dog, Coco, needs to go, they head to a small grassy area near the Hitt Street garage. Sometimes, she can’t quite make it that far, so Somraty has to adjust on the fly.  

“I’m from the suburbs, so it’s a lot different having a dog here downtown,” Somatry says. “But she has adapted to city life.”  

Worth the Price

Wherever pet owners venture, they’re required to keep their dogs on a leash and pick up poo, wherever it lands. But for them, living, working, shopping, dining, and drinking in downtown Columbia with their pet is worth the price of admission. 

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