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JoAnna Lou
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Fighting for a Variance
Should dogs be allowed in coffee shops?
Should dogs be allowed inside cafes and coffee shops?

As I’ve blogged previously, I love being able to bring my dogs everywhere possible, especially restaurants. While health codes keep dogs outside on the patio, there are certain bars and coffee shops that let pets inside. For a long time my area had Coffee Labs in Tarrytown, N.Y., a cafe that encouraged patrons to bring their dogs, even though it was not technically allowed.

Earlier this year, the Westchester Country Department of Health issued a warning that ended seven years of canines gracing the shop. As you can imagine, local dog loving customers were devastated.

Since then, owners Alicia Kelligrew and Mike Love, have been working towards getting a dog variance issued. They argue that food is not prepared on-site and they haven’t had any problems in seven years of operation. The duo already has a petition with over 2,000 signatures.

Last Thursday, Alicia and Mike took the request to the local Board of Health meeting. The 12-person board will ultimately decide whether or not to grant a variance to Coffee Labs. No decision has been made yet and there will likely be a public discussion before that happens.

I understand the concern for not allowing pets in a food store, and if all people were responsible and respectful it wouldn't be a problem. However, it would be nice if the two sides could meet in the middle – like allowing dogs at stores that don't prepare food on premise.

Do you think dogs should be allowed in coffee shops?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by DavidDennisPhotos.com, Flickr.

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Submitted by Frances | June 22 2010 |

We are lucky in the UK - the rule is no dogs in food preparation areas, dogs in other areas at the discretion of the business. Many cafes and restaurants insist on no dogs inside, but there are still some that welcome dogs. My local market town, Kirkby Lonsdale, has several excellent dog friendly cafes - they have recognised the good sense of a strategy that attracts the many, many dog owners visiting the town!

Submitted by Lisa | June 22 2010 |

I'm curious if anyone has ever done a study of the bacteria levels on the floors of no-dogs-allowed shops.

I've had people give me dirty looks in the park when I'm picking up after my dogs. One person actually yelled at me: "There are kids playing on this field, you know!"

While I understand the natural disgust some people have at the thought of dog feces contaminating the environment, be it park or coffee shop, I'm not sure if the science actually supports the idea that all environments are naturally free of bacteria as long as no dogs are allowed anywhere in the vicinity.

People walk. Children walk. They walk on sidewalks, in back yards, in parks, on roadsides. At some point in their travels during the day, I'm pretty sure most people, somehow, somewhere, come into contact with the waste products of another animal - be it squirrel, bird, goose, gopher, rabbit, dog, or cat. The park where the woman yelled at me while I was picking up after my dogs is heavily strewn each spring with the feces of migrating Canada Geese, who use the pond in the park as a rest stop.

People wear their shoes into their homes, into the grocery store, into the bathroom, into the restaurant.

Where is the science? The idea that the world is a sterile, bacteria-free environment as long as dogs are kept at home seems to me to be just plain scientifically unsound, and deserving of further exploration.

Submitted by Rachel | June 22 2010 |

Absolutely! Judgment should be the driver - dogs should not be allowed where fresh food is being ground or otherwise prepared, but there is no reason why practical hygiene should not allow dogs to accompany their owners at their table. Mine do every night in my kitchen without issue :)

This is the reason I love to frequent Carmel, California where scores of restaurants allow this very thing....it is a treat for all.

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