Can you imagine anything better than sitting out on a nice patio in the sunshine, beer in your hand, friends all around you, doggo at your feet? For the people of Halifax, this may soon become a dream, as several waterfront restaurants have received warnings from food safety inspectors, forcing them to ban dogs from their taprooms and patios. However, in fierce defiance of these anti-dog regulations, Halifax businesses are coming together to take action - to bring doggos back to the waterfront!

The whole thing started way back in July, when popular dog-spot Brightwood Brewery in Dartmouth announced that they would have to start turning away furry visitors, after they were issued with a warning from a Halifax food safety inspector. By August, the inspectors had also visited The Stubborn Goat Beer Garden, and Stayner’s Wharf, handing out the same notices of warning and banning pets from the previously pet-friendly facilities.

The Stubborn Goat Beer Garden owner, Geir Simensen, told Global News, “That warning was very clear and we know that we're on the radar. We thought with patios, it's maybe a little bit less strict, but it turns out that it's equally strict." Simensen explained that the inspector came to the premises following one complaint about four dogs out on their patio. “It was the result of just one complaint,” the general manager emphasized.

Equally surprised by the warning, Stayner Wharf’s owner Todd Abbass explained that they have allowed dogs on their patio for nearly 20 years, never once encountering any problems. He said, “[The inspector] gave us a warning that we shouldn’t do it anymore, or can’t do it anymore.” Abbass told the inspector, “This is kind of crazy, I’m going to keep doing it.”

It was a similar story for Cameron Hartley, owner of Schoolhouse Brewery in Windsor, who told CTV News that a food inspector recently told him that he was banned from allowing any pets other than guide dogs on his patio. Hartley explained, “He informed me that anywhere where there’s food, we are not permitted to have any pets. That was news to me.”

On top of that, a brewery in Uxbridge, Ontario is currently in a dispute with the Durham Region after Health inspectors have banned dogs from their premises. 

As it stands, provincial regulations currently state that live animals are not allowed in food establishments, with the exception of service animals. However, not happy to let sleeping dogs lie, Brightwood Brewery has created a petition to bring dogs back to the waterfront, and Stubborn Goat Beer Garden, Stayner’s Wharf and Schoolhouse Brewery are all backing it.

According to the petition, the businesses are proposing to add a section to the existing regulations, which would effectively allow dogs on their premises, providing they “will not pose a risk of a health hazard occurring on the premises.” 

Speaking to Global News, Agsteribbe explained that while he understands why service animals should always be allowed in a venue, in terms of food safety, there is no difference between a service dog and a regular dog. He noted that, as long as the animal is well behaved, they should be allowed in.

The petition states, “Dogs are family members; we believe that Nova Scotia’s restrictive dog laws can be detrimental to their overall wellbeing. Dogs are social animals and are not meant to be cooped up inside of an apartment or house most of the time, especially in the heat we’ve been experiencing this summer!”

“There are so many pet owners that like to explore our city, that like to be able to sit on a patio and enjoy a nice meal and they don’t want to leave their dogs at home,” Abbass explained.

Despite having more than 11,500 signatures at the time of writing, Environment Minister Gordon Wilson said he was not considering changing the regulations at this time. That said, Wilson did add, “but I’m always listening and always open to hearing what the general public has to say.”

You can sign the petition to get puppers back on the Halifax waterfront here.

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