Dog's Life

Dallas needs to roll over its policy on dog-friendly businesses

Dallas needs to roll over its policy on dog-friendly businesses

Dog on the patio at Mercat Bistro in Dallas
We see dogs everywhere in Dallas. Mercat Bistro/Facebook

UPDATE: This story had been updated with new information. 

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Dallas loves its dogs, and you can find man's best friend pretty much everywhere, on coffeehouse patios, at festivals, and sometimes unfortunately loose on the street.

But one business where you will no longer find them is Lakewood Growler. The craft beer growler bar at Mockingbird Lane and Abrams Road previously had an open-door policy for neighborhood residents, who wanted to bring their dogs along for a beer.

That was until a city health inspector showed up and said dogs inside the facility had to go.

Dallas does allow dogs on patios at bars and restaurants, but not inside a place unless they are service animals. Lakewood Growler has no patio.

Dallas' ordinance allowing dogs on patios has been in place since May 2008. It requires an inspection and then a $127 fee for a two-year approval to be a "dog friendly" business, which includes being able to post a sign at the door, like a Chamber of Commerce member sticker or a "best of" award from a local publication.

The city maintains a list of 74 approved dog-friendly food establishments, which can be found online; it sounds like a lot until you realize that 14 establishments on the list are various Starbucks locations.

I can say from first-hand experience — walking my brother's dog Riley for strolls along Greenville Avenue, and he's cute enough that more people talk to him than me — that many businesses not on the city's dog-friendly list are nonetheless welcoming to dogs.

(Alternatively, some restaurants like Matt's Rancho Martinez maintain an anti-dog policy. They're catering to the customers who want to enjoy a margarita on the patio in a dog-free zone, though some of my friends ban it out of principle.)

Czech says that the inspector visited Lakewood Growler in response to a complaint, likely from a customer; it has put Czech in the position of telling customers they can't bring in their dogs.

"As far as I know, we don't really have an option as to how we can be in compliance and it's a shame because we've got dog places around us," he says, referring to Dee's Doggie Den, a facility next door, and a dog park nearby.

Catering to the dog-loving public can be a real boon to business and to the city. With the dog days of summer near, this seems like a great opportunity for Dallas to get more dog- and business-friendly by leaving a window open for these kinds of businesses, and by proactively signing up more of the establishments that are currently under the radar.

"We've got a lot of dog people around here who stop by on the weekend after visiting the dog park," Czech says. "We want to get along with everyone, but it's unfortunate there's not any kind of permit we can get."

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UPDATE: On April 27, the city sent out letters to approximately 140 businesses with patios letting them know how they can go about receiving a dog variance in Dallas.

“Right now, we’re in education mode, sending out letters and talking to people when we’re out doing inspections and letting them know they need to come in and register to be in compliance,"  says Kris Sweckard, director of code compliance for the city of Dallas.

When it comes to the ordinance, it’s not about whether or not food is served. "There isn’t a distinction made between food and alcohol when it comes to dogs because it’s all consumables," Sweckard says.

The city updated its patio policy in June 2016 to align with updates made by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The main change called for signs to be posted both at the front door and on the patio of places that have received a Dog Variance. The signs read, "Dog friendly patio - dog access only through outdoor patio."

Sweckard says that Lakewood Growler was one of about 10 spots the city visited after receiving a complaint about locations hosting dogs without the required Dog Variance. More than half of those spots already filed the appropriate paperwork to become in compliance.