Why can’t B.C. have a dog-friendly craft brewery?

Dogs are effectively banned from the premises of breweries in B.C. Getty Images photo

A craft beer taphouse in Oregon is catering to our four-legged friends on a whole other level, and B.C. should take note. Not only is Fido’s tasting room in Southwest Portland (of course) totally dog-friendly, it actually operates as a foster home for shelter dogs where you can adopt a new best friend.

Fido’s bills itself as “The World’s First Dog Taphouse,” and features 40 taps of craft beer, cider and wine, as well as a full kitchen—but the dogs are the big draw. The bar’s onsite “Fido Room” hosts homeless doggies from a local dog shelter, Oregon Friends Of Shelter Animals, which rescues the dogs who then live at the bar until adopted. The bar also features a huge dog-friendly patio and regularly hosts fundraisers for dog welfare charities and adoption drives.

“All the pictures in the taproom are dogs,” owner Scott Porter told Willamette Week. “There’s not one beer sign. Even when you go to the bathroom, there’s a dog rescue story.”

Before you get the wrong idea, though, no, you can’t get totally wasted at the bar and then adopt a puppy. Because that would be a terrible idea.

“[Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals] won’t let anybody adopt while they’re here. There’s a two- or a three-step process,” says Porter. “But I joke about this: We don’t want anybody here with a couple drinks, then you wake up in the morning with a leash in your hand and somebody licking your face.”

As brilliant an idea as a dog shelter bar is, sadly a similar venture will likely never happen here in B.C.

Local health authorities here have effectively banned dogs from pubs and brewery tasting rooms. The Food Premises Regulation of the B.C. Public Health Act states, “an operator of food premises must not permit live animals to be on the premises.” Breweries are considered food premises because they manufacture and sell a “processed substance intended for human consumption.” So they get lumped in with sushi restaurants and buffets, despite the fact that beer is considered to be “microbiologically safe” as the presence of alcohol, hop bittering compounds and carbon dioxide kill off foodborne pathogens.

So that means no dogs, as countless breweries have found out. Guide dogs and service dogs are cool, so long as they’re not in the food preparation area, and fish in an aquarium also get a pass, but beyond that, only animals that “a health officer determines will not pose a risk of a health hazard occurring on the premises” are permitted. Even on outdoor patios.

However, a number of B.C. craft breweries have taken advantage of the new outdoor picnic licence, which allows them to designate an outdoor area for the consumption of take-away products, like canned beer and growlers—and best of all, dogs are allowed! A number of rural breweries like Bad Dog Brewing in Sooke have lovely shaded areas with picnic tables and dog dishes so the whole family can enjoy an afternoon at the brewery—including the fur babies.

Hopefully the provincial government comes to its senses soon and removes the ban on dogs in breweries and lets brewery owners decide if they want to allow dogs in the tasting room.

Our best friends deserve better.

This story originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2020 issue of The Growler, out now! You can find B.C.’s favourite craft beer and cider guide at your local brewery, cidery, select private liquor stores, and by subscription here.

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