Dog daze! City is going after Brooklyn’s pooch-friendly bars

The Brooklyn Paper
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The city has cracked down on the borough’s pooch-loving bars — and North Brooklyn is especially in the doghouse.

Health Department officials wrote 125 tickets for “live animal violations” at bars and restaurants in Brooklyn between July, 2010 and July, 2011 — and one-quarter of the summonses were in Williamsburg and Bushwick.

City law forbids animals — with the exception of service dogs and fish in tanks — from being present at establishments that serve food and drink.

“Animals shed hair continuously, may deposit liquid or fecal waste [and] carry disease-causing organisms.” the code reads.

Owners of pet-friendly establishments — some of whom have created an identity around their beer-in-hand, dog-on-leash patio vibe — say the anti-pup enforcement began to boom after the city adopted a letter system for grading restaurant cleanliness last year.

“I understand the law, but I love dogs and think they should be allowed,” said Kristen Warrenfells of Variety Café on Graham Avenue, one of the joints that got slapped with a fine.

In addition to the blitz on Williamsburg and Bushwick, Mission Dolores in Park Slope and Rope in Fort Greene were also cited. In Southern Brooklyn, Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge received the most violations, with eateries such as John’s Famous Deli on Stillwell Avenue and Nablus Sweets and Pastries on Fifth Avenue getting tickets.

“It’s a big deal for us,” said John Rauschenberg, who co-owns Pacific Standard, a beer bar on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope that was cited for having a pooch on the premises. “A lot of people who walk their dogs come in here. In restaurants, [the rule is] reasonable, but not here.”

The Department of Health defended the ticket blitz, explaining that pets can spread communicable diseases. For decades, it has been against city rules to have pets in a restaurants — or anywhere near a cocktail — but many business owners, especially bar owners, have been lax about following this particular law.

Several pet-friendly bars — especially ones near dog parks and those with large outdoor spaces for brunch or beers — have even carved out a niche around the joyful rule-breaking.

In Park Slope, for example, hamburger joints, beer pubs and wine bars set dog dishes outside storefronts and give away bone-shaped puppy treats to show dogs are as much part of the neighborhood culture as kids.

Even so, the number of monthly tickets the city wrote in Brooklyn nearly tripled from June 2010 to July 2011. Overall, inspectors wrote approximately 470 “live animal violations” citywide during that period, although it’s unclear from records what types of pets that includes. About one-quarter of the total tickets were in Brooklyn neighborhoods, where dogs sometimes outnumber children.

That’s one reason why some bar owners say they will continue to invite pup owners to enjoy a beer with their best friend, despite sliding-scale fines that generally cost about $200.

“We’ll take the risk,” said Rauschenberg. “It’s something we value.”

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Reader Feedback

Brooklyn from Fort Greene says:
Can they go after babies in bars next please?
Oct. 13, 2011, 4:44 am
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Don't these city douchebags have anything better to do?
This is a disgrace. And you can bet it's all about the money. Goddamn nanny state.
Oct. 13, 2011, 8:48 am
j from Park Slope says:
Fecal waste? When was the last time a dog pooped in a bar?

If we have a representative government, the government should sometimes listen to its entire populace. No one is getting sick from having a dog in a bar. No one has ever gotten sick from having a dog in a bar. Drop it.
Oct. 13, 2011, 9:25 am
adamben from bedstuy says:
we've been turned away from empty bars (before 6pm) with our baby in bedstuy;he doesn't shed into other peoples drinks/food like dogs, cats or hipsters.
Oct. 13, 2011, 9:30 am
p from park slope says:
if the rule is for "establishments that serve food and drink" then why bother places like Mission Dolores that only serve alcohol. It's obvious you shouldn't bring a dog into a cafe or whatever, but if they don't serve any food then what's the problem?
Oct. 13, 2011, 9:52 am
Maddy from BK says:
I love dogs but don't think they should be in bars. Why do people feel like it is their god-given right to bring their pets into bars? Maybe the city could set up a special dog permit for bars that want to have an exception.
Oct. 13, 2011, 10:12 am
Pashelle from Prospect Heights says:
Now they should go after grocery stores that allow Paris Hilton wannabes to carry in their rat dogs in their purses or even in their arms in blatant violation of the law. I'm looking at you, Key Food on Washington and Lincoln. Disgusting. I have a (real) dog, but I don't want anybody's dog breathing on my food and spreading disease.
Oct. 13, 2011, 10:36 am
Dogzzzzzzzz from Greenpoint says:
I love dogs and babies at bars! Beerzzz for everyone!
Oct. 13, 2011, 10:39 am
The Vidiot from Carroll Gardens says:
Why don't they just make themselves useful and arrest a few bankers instead?
Oct. 13, 2011, 11:26 am
DogGoneIt from Burg says:
I'm allergic to dogs. Dogs are dirty and gross. Your dog is not a human being, and is not your child. Eat and drink at home if you want to eat and drink with your dog. Your dog sniffs dog anuses and eats poo. Its gross.
Oct. 13, 2011, 1:35 pm
Drew from Williamsburg says:
I live next door to a bar that welcomes in dogs and it has quickly become the reason my girlfriend and I go there. Besides the awesome jukebox and cheap booze, the dogs make the atmosphere there so comfortable and welcoming. I think the law is ridiculous. I understand why the city has its perspective, but it's overkill.
Oct. 13, 2011, 1:50 pm
Leo Katz from South Brooklyn says:
In my day were cooked the dogs and fed it to the babies.
Oct. 13, 2011, 2:10 pm
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
wasn't there a murder in Prospect Heights at the bar Branded that concerned dogs at a bar?
Oct. 13, 2011, 2:55 pm
Sarah from South Brooklyn says:
I've had more meals than I can count ruined by children screaming or horse-playing around while their parents pretended it wasn't happening, crying babies, and otherwise inconsiderate customers. The only criteria for being allowed in an an outdoor or casual space should be whether or not the animal (canine or not ) is controlled and behaved. And if they're not, it's the owners responsibility to remove them (just as it should be the parents responsibility to remove an out-of-control child from said space).

I'm also tired of the argument that dogs are unclean and spread germs — I spend plenty of time around children (and dogs) and have contracted 100% more communicable diseases from children (than dogs).
Oct. 13, 2011, 5:10 pm
Peter from 11222 says:
Where does it end? No more Kokies. You can't take to go drinks out of the Turkey's Nest , and no dogs in bars?
Screw this. I am moving to Wyoming.
Oct. 13, 2011, 11:12 pm
SkyRoller from WrightHair says:
Spuds McKenzie's gonna be pissed!
Oct. 14, 2011, 4:05 am
SkyRoller from WrightHair says:

SkyRoller's choice of background music for this article.
Oct. 14, 2011, 4:06 am
ann from park slope says:
Drunks are more likely to pee in bars than dogs. Stupid law.
Oct. 16, 2011, 10:02 am
disembodied cat head from williamsburg says:
it's about time. dog-owners share all the worst characteristic of overenthusiastic new parents - assuming everyone loves their disease-carrying, feces-ejecting high-decibel bundle of ugly and taking offense when someone has a [totally justifiable] objection to its presence where it doesn't belong. not only do dogs relieve themselves everywhere [especially outdoors, in those bars with 'big courtyards' so proud of their canine non-customers], but actual customers may be allergic to them and the noise they create can be just as bad as an upset baby - & the dog doesn't even have to be upset to start deafening everyone in the room. they jump on/lick strangers without provocation [this is not cute, & if a human being did it it would be considered assault], & may bite without warning. unless the bars want lawsuits on their hands they should be doing everything in their power to keep dogs out. the health department has no problem chasing cats out of bars & cats are [comparably] harmless - hardly any noise, rarely approach strangers, only bite when teased/provoked, easily trained to relieve themselves in litter box [far from the food-preparation/serving areas]. some are allergic to cats, though, so i won't argue that the health department should let them back in - just that they should be fair & ditch the dogs too
[as for babies - we can hope...]
Oct. 18, 2011, 9:18 pm

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