Regulation Under Review After DC Cracks Down on Dogs at Bars

Pets at bars, coffee shops and restaurants is a growing trend, but it’s not legal everywhere, and a D.C. regulation is under review after a crackdown at a beer garden that serves food.

At The Midlands in northwest D.C., which is co-owned by the son of News4 reporter Tom Sherwood, Andy Pants the dog was as much a part of the business as the beer until a D.C. health inspector ordered Andy and all dogs off the patio Tuesday.

“Nobody is in the kitchen with their dogs,” dog lover Andrew Zukosky said. “It’s an outdoor venue anyway. There are birds in there. It seems like they're way dirtier than domestic animals.”

Tracey Newberry and her dog Suzy Q found themselves shut out of one of their favorite restaurants Wednesday.

“I don't know what I'm going to do,” she said. “I’m probably not going to go out as much.”

Many businesses encourage customers to bring their dogs. Some restaurants and bars host yappy hours.

But the D.C. Department of Health says it’s against the law. It’s been telling establishments to keep the dogs out or face a $500 fine.


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"Every restaurant I've ever worked in has allowed dogs on their patios and it's never been a problem with enforcement before, so why start now?" Midlands co-owner Peyton Sherwood said.

Other jurisdictions in the area found a way around the health code restrictions.

In Arlington, Virginia, bars and restaurants can apply for an exemption and get a permit to allow dogs. Oz in Clarendon got a permit and hosts regular yappy hours.

"From my understanding of what Arlington does, it sounds great, having exemptions for restaurants that want to have animals," Sherwood said.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, restaurants can get a permit to allow four-legged companions on the patios as well.

Wednesday afternoon, the D.C. Department of Health changed its position on dogs at bars, saying it’s reviewing the regulation, and a D.C. Council member is considering emergency legislation to allow dogs at some restaurants.

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