Dog Bars. I Love Them. Cat Cafés, Too. Why Not?
Dog bars: they have personality. I love a bar with personality, ergo, I love dog bars, that is, bars that allow pooches inside. But there’s a hitch: departments of health. Some of them (specifically the one here in New York) aren’t so keen on hairy beasts in public houses of consumption. And you should see some of the patrons. There’s no ban on them, and they’re all over the bar and the tables and everything. But dogs? Come on. They’re down there on the floor, generally (except for some of those asshole terriers) behaving perfectly. Why the ban?
According to a March 15, 2016 posting on NYC.gov:
HEALTH DEPARTMENT FINALIZES ‘DINING WITH DOGS’ RULES
New rules do not require restaurants to check if a dog is licensed and vaccinated
“The Health Department today finalized rules on the “Dining with Dogs” legislation passed by the State Legislature last session. The law – sponsored by Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal – authorizes restaurants to allow pet dogs in certain defined outdoor dining areas. The law allowed municipalities to establish rules and enforce the new measures.
“The health and safety of every New Yorker is our priority,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. [ironical name, no? — ed.] “These new rules ensure that restaurant patrons can bring their dogs to outdoor areas, while also keeping other diners protected. The new regulations will be applied fairly and enforced with the public’s health in mind.”
“The new rules clarify that restaurants allowing dogs in outdoor areas must post a sign to alert customers that dogs must be licensed and vaccinated against rabies, as required for all New York City dogs. Restaurants will not be required to verify that a dog has its paperwork in order. Only those restaurants participating in dining with dogs must post a sign. Restaurants must also use barriers or other methods to limit contact between dogs in the outdoor dining area and dogs and people on an adjacent sidewalk. The Health Department will issue further guidance on effective strategies for separating dogs who have joined diners from passersby. These new rules do not change the existing requirement that restaurants must accommodate service dogs.“
DOG BARS: A LOOPHOLE (A WAY TO FLOUT)
Now, here’s the funny thing. A loophole, it turns out. That “service dog” clause, emboldened and italicized (by me) above? Now we’re in a sort of fuzzy area of the law. I’ve heard that comfort dogs can be considered service dogs in NYC. [I’m trying to verify this with the DOH as I write this] In addition, a venue owner cannot ask you if your dog is a service dog. [Ibid] So… let’s say my dog is a comfort to me (which sure as hell is a service, especially here in New York, where we can all use all the comfort we can get), which would make him a comfort dog, which is a service dog. And since a venue isn’t allowed by law to ask… well then. It seems to me that anyone with a dog can waltz into anywhere and unless the venue breaks the law by asking if your dog is a service dog, you wouldn’t have to say diddly. And if they did ask, so what? Answer: “COMFORT DOG, man. Off my back.”
I’ve written to the folks at the NYC Dept. of Health to clarify things, and I’m still waiting. In the meantime, dogs in bars. I want more. And comfort cats? Hell yes. They eats mice. Service cats, man. Off my back.
Dog bars! Let’s see more dog bars in New York! (A few are out there. I could name names, but I won’t.)
And here’s your cat café: on Atlantic Avenue between Clinton Street and Henry: