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A swift victory for bar dogs in DC

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They say nothing gets done quickly in Washington, and at the federal level, “they” are generally right.

Look at the history of health care legislation, or that of immigration reform, or virtually any other issue.

So it’s refreshing to learn that when the DC Health Department decided to wage war on dogs in bars, the DC Council brought an end to it — and in a matter of weeks.

The council unanimously passed emergency legislation allowing businesses to choose whether they want to have pet-friendly patios — and in doing so sent a message to the health department that there are better things it could be doing with its time.

In mid-September, health inspectors, acting on complaints from uptight citizens, told owners of three dog-friendly bars — Midlands in Park View, Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights, and Bardo Brewing — that they couldn’t permit dogs on their premises.

The laws have been around a while, but they are little known and seldom exercised.

Dog owners were quick to react to the crackdown.

Midlands owner Peyton Sherwood, whose bar dog AndyPants has a dog house at the beer garden, called on pet owners to contact their council members. He also hosted a “doggy sit-in and petition signing” to change the law.

A Twitter account, @PupsOnPatios, was created to advocate on behalf of the banished canines.

Other bars joined in the fight and their customers and dog owners inundated D.C. Council members with complaints, leading to emergency legislation to repeal the ban that was introduced and approved Tuesday.

The resolution, led by council members Brianne Nadeau and Vincent Gray, pointed out that the health department should be worrying about more important things, such as opioid abuse, mental health services and health care disparities, according to Washingtonian.com.

“The Department of Health’s limited time and resources are being marshaled to suddenly enforce an unknown and previously unenforced regulation about dogs being allowed in outdoor patio dining areas,” the resolution noted.

The legislation, which still needs the mayor’s approval, returns the decision on whether dogs should be permitted on bar and restaurant patios where it belongs — to bar and restaurant owners.

Under the resolution, businesses can choose whether to allow dogs, and can restrict types of dog based on breed, size, or temperament.

Establishments permitting dogs will be required to have signs clearly stating that dogs are permitted and provide a separate entrance to outdoor areas that do not open into indoor seating areas. Patrons will be required to keep their dogs on leashes.

(Photo: AndyPants, resident dog at Midlands Beer Garden, courtesy of Midlands)

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