FL Bar Refuses To Leash Their Best Patrons

Lucky Business / shutterstock.com
Lucky Business / shutterstock.com

Small bars dot the Florida landscape. While many lack room to move during the 9 months of strong tourism the state has a year, those other three months can be very rough on the owners of bars and restaurants. To keep their establishments open, many have taken to welcoming pets in as patrons.

Commonly called “dog-friendly bars” these establishments have easily hosed down “grass”, play areas for dogs to mingle, fresh water all over, and never-ending biscuits. Now new FL Department of Health (DOH) rules bar dogs from coming inside establishments where food is being served.

Owners of Pups Pub filed a challenge to that law back on February 2nd. With one location in Tampa that opened in 2020, and a second that sprang up in 2022, they not only were birthed during COVID, but they prospered through it. Yet they received an “unsatisfactory” rating on the date of their suite because of dogs being in the bar.

Dogs at this bar are allowed to play inside at this establishment. With their own doghouse and a slide, the establishment was designed with dogs to be the prime patrons. All animals need to be up to date with vaccines and spayed or neutered if they are over the age of one. With these simple rules come simple offerings.

The co-owners explained that they did not deserve this rating and that they were incorrectly targeted by this DOH rule. With no food being served, just drunks, they are exempt from the rules of food service.

Speaking to News4Jax, the owners said, “Despite its prior enunciation of its interpretation of its rules that dogs were authorized inside bar establishments as long as there was some minimum separation between the dogs and the area where the beverages were prepared, the department changed its interpretation and began prohibiting dogs inside the bar establishment as a whole.”

Continuing, they explained that the department is now interpreting the rules as void because it “constitutes an agency statement of general applicability which has not been adopted as a rule and is applicable to dog friendly bars statewide.” This kind of problem is not unique to them either. With many outdoor restaurants, they need to install countermeasures against birds who love to divebomb diners for fries and other food. Food carts have to deal with feral animals that may try and sneak on board for a snack.

For now, they won’t be going anywhere. “We are staying open. We are not closing. We’re going to get to the place where we started, which is [to] let us work together with writing a new code to regulate dog bar concepts like this.”

By meeting lawmakers in the middle, they are sending the signal that they don’t want to be part of the problem. Rather they want to find the solutions to their problem so they can press on with tending to man’s best friend and their owners. These bars also often provide a resource for fundraisers and dog adoption days. They can help dogs get homes instead of kennels, and with how much that costs in FL, it’s a big deal.

As you can see, this is a doghouse anyone could love. https://youtu.be/eteoE1AoZuI