Our forefathers may have overlooked listing it in the Constitution, but I’d rank it up there with free speech, religious freedom and the right to bear arms… maybe even above the right to bear arms:
It’s the right to get a beer at a bar with your dog — one of life’s true pleasures, assuming you love beer and love dogs (and assuming it’s cool with the bar owner).
Local health departments, often, don’t see it that way, as was recently the case in New York City, where The Gate, a tavern in Park Slope, was told it can no longer allow patrons to come in with their dogs.
The city Department of Health based their order on a law prohibiting any live animal from being in a food service establishment.
The Gate is not a restaurant, but, under the law, beer, wine, booze and ice are considered foods.
Unconstitutional? Should be, I say, tongue not entirely in cheek.
All 50 states allow residents to carry concealed guns outside their homes. Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, and Ohio have laws specifically allowing guns in bars. Bar patrons in South Carolina and North Carolina also aren’t required to disarm when entering a bar.
Twenty states, including New York and New Jersey, do not address the question of guns in bars at all.
It makes me uncomfortable, living in a world (and a state) where guns have more rights, privileges and protections than dogs.
And it gives me pause (not paws, for that would be a pun), that local health departments can get so worked up about a hound sleeping on a bar floor when Ebola is at our doorstep. Don’t they have more important things to do?
But back to The Gate.
After the health department laid down the law at the corner of 5th Avenue and 3rd Street, management posted a sign on the door of the tavern, saying, “with apologies to our furry friends,” dogs could no longer be allowed.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn pet owners have started a petition on the website Park Slope for Pets (see the upper right corner of that page) asking the Health Department to “allow dogs at The Gate” and reclassify bars that don’t serve food. As of this morning, nearly 600 signatures had been collected.
“We support The Gate’s dog-friendly status in the neighborhood as well as all other non-food drinking establishments that welcome dogs,” the petition’s sponsors say. “We are not looking for an exception for The Gate but rather a revision to the statute with regard to all non-food drinking establishments.”
I hold an even more radical stance. I’m for letting well-behaved dogs into places that do serve food, and even inside, as opposed to the patio (given it’s OK with the owner).
I’m more concerned with what’s going on unseen in the kitchen than the possibility of evil germs hopping off a dog and onto my plate of mozzarella sticks.
If its OK for service dogs to go inside restaurants, it should be OK for all well-socialized dogs — because all dogs, in a way, are service dogs.
My dog Ace, a one-time therapy dog who now counsels only me (and at a very reasonable fee) grew up spending some time (but not an inordinate amount of time) at a neighborhood bar in Baltimore I patronized.
I like to think he added to the bar’s character, and warmth, and friendliness, and vice versa. Admittedly, he also served as a social crutch for me, making conversations easier to start, making me more comfortable, keeping me from getting too tongue tied.
Just as dogs need to be socialized, so do we. And dogs and bars — independently and especially in combination — can help those of us who have difficulty in that area achieve that.
Dogs in bars lead to more social dogs, and more social people. (With the exception of those humans who are aghast by the prospect of a dog in a bar or restaurant and feel the need to file an official complaint, as opposed to just avoiding the establishment.)
“One of my favorite parts about going to The Gate was that I could enjoy a quiet night out without the lingering guilt of knowing my dog was waiting for me at home,” one dog owner told Park Slope Stoop. “… It’s disappointing that they are losing part of their character because of the DOH’s overreach in enforcing the Health Law.”
The Gate’s owner, Bobby Gagnon, reportedly plans to fight the health department edict when he appears before the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings on Nov. 18 — not so much to be granted an exception as to clarify the law.
Dog owners need to push back from time to time, as opposed to just letting themselves be pushed around. I think that happens because dog owners are generally calm, easy-going, reasonable, level-headed people (thanks, at least in part, to their dogs), and because they realize having a dog — whether it’s a right or not — is truly a privilege.
Maybe if dog owners got political, played dirty, sported bumper stickers and insisted on exercising the right to have a Bud with their bud, we could resolve the problem, short of a Constitutional amendment.
Maybe if dog owners could be as strident and overbearing as gun lobbyists, they could enjoy more freedoms with their dogs.
Maybe, when authorities come to take our dogs out of a bar in which he or she is otherwise welcome, we should say, “Sure, you can take my dog out of this establishment … when you pry the leash out of my cold dead fingers.”
Maybe someday the Supreme Court will address the burning questions: Is ice food? And even if so, do we have a right to walk into a bar with our dog?
I’m sure critics will say it’s frivolous of me to compare taking your terrier to a tavern with our right to tote firearms, or our Constitutionally granted freedoms of religion and speech.
But are they really that different?
My dog protects me, like a gun. My dog nourishes and consoles me, like a religion. And he frees up my speech better than the First Amendment ever did.
(Photos: Ace and his friend Stringer at a Recreation Billiards, a dog friendly bar in Winston-Salem, Ace at The Dog Bar in Charlotte, and a Great Dane at The Dog Bar, by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!; sign outside The Gate in New York, from Park Slope Stoop)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 10th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, constitution, dining, dog bars, dog friendly, dog owners, dogs, dogs in bars, establishments, firearms, food, free speech, freedoms, guns, health department, ice, laws, new york, pets, priviliges, public health, questions, recreation billiards, religion, religious, restaurants, rights, rules, service dogs, supreme court, taverns, the dog bar, the gate
Not since they started playing poker — at least on canvas — have dogs been presented as ridiculously and imaginatively as they are in this bit of cable television comedy.
Generally, dogs who are depicted as talking, or otherwise behaving as humans, fail to rise to the level of art, or even comedy, in my view. On top of never being too funny, the humanizing of dogs makes me wince. They’re perfect as they are; why drag them down to our species’ level?
But, in light of the point it makes, we’ll cut John Oliver some slack. Noting that cameras aren’t allowed in the U.S. Supreme Court, and that those courtroom artist renderings don’t make for riveting drama, Oliver suggested on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” that dogs be used to act out the audio — the audio, unlike the video, being public.
“Cameras aren’t allowed in the Supreme Court, so most coverage of our most important cases looks like garbage. We fixed that problem with real animals and fake paws. Feel free to take our footage.”
In addition to what was aired on the show, he provided some stock dog video so that viewers can create their own dog-ified Supreme Court re-enactments. You can find that footage on YouTube. You can find some viewer submissions through #realanimalsfakepaws.
Oliver suggested broadcast news organizations use the animal footage with actual Supreme Court audio, instead of the boring still illustrations that they currently depend on. Doing so, he says, might get Americans more interested in what’s transpiring in the highest court in the land.
The sketch features dogs as the nine justices. That’s a bulldog as Antonin Scalia and a glasses-wearing Chihuahua providing the voice of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There’s also a duck as an assistant, and a chicken as a stenographer. The sketch uses audio from an actual Supreme Court session (dealing with Holt vs. Hobbs, a case that questions whether prisons can force Muslim prisoners to trim their beards).
It’s unlikely the comedic barb will lead to any change in the stuffy and camera-shy court’s refusal to allow its proceedings to be televised. And if anybody took the issue to court, guess where it would eventually end up?
Even if the Supreme Court did go fully public, and became a TV show, I suspect it would only take one or two viewings of SCOTUS Live — or whatever it would be called — to turn most viewers off. In truth, most of us don’t want to watch the Supreme Court on TV, we just want to have that right.
More likely, after watching the dry and dusty judges making dry and dusty arguments, we’d all be saying, “Bring back the doggie version!”
Posted by John Woestendiek October 21st, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: arguments, art, bulldog, cameras, chihuahua, comedy, dogs, ginsburg, hbo, hearings, john oliver, justices, last week tonight, media, poker playing, policies, rules, scalia, supreme court, supreme court dogs, televised, television
Whether one of North Carolina’s best known dog-friendly beaches will stay that way is coming up for discussion.
The Oak Island town council will discuss changing the rules at Oak Island Beach at its next meeting, including a proposal from one council member to ban dogs entirely.
Currently the law permits dogs year round on the beach, and requires them to be on leashes between March 15 and October 15.
The ban was proposed by Councilwoman Carol Painter after receiving an email complaint from a beachgoer who said “a dog made aggressive actions toward a child,” according to the Wilmington Star-News
“One of the kids stood up to walk towards the tent away from the dog and the dog starting barking and lunged toward the children in an aggressive manner,” the email said.
No chidren were harmed by the dog, or even touched by the dog apparently.
The proposal to ban dogs from the beach during daytime hours will be heard at the council’s next meeting, along with a proposal to make it easier for animal control to enforce nuisance laws on the beach.
Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace told the Star-News the city receives few complaints about dogs misbehaving.
“As many dogs as we have all over Oak Island, there have been very few situations that involve any issues with dogs,” she said. “Most often the complaints we get are people not picking up a dog’s poop. Or dogs barking excessively.”
The town’s reputation as dog-friendly is what draws many tourists.
“The whole reason we wanted to come here was because of the dogs,” said one visitor, who drove from Colorado to visit. “It’s one of the few beaches that allow dogs.”
One resident of the town told the Star News she thinks there is plenty of room for dogs and people at Oak Island’s beach. It could even be sectioned off, she said, to allow additional areas where dogs aren’t allowed, and where dogs could run leash-free.
“We have enough beach for everyone,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 8th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ban, beach, beaches, dog, dog friendly, dogs, north carolina, oak island, oak island beach, pets, proposal, proposed, rules, town council
If you don’t have one, she won’t rent to you.
And if a resident of her 12-unit apartment house in North Hollywood loses a pet, they must get another. She insists renters whose dogs die go with her to the shelter to adopt a new one.
Some have criticized her policies as discriminatory. We find them — and her — a highly refreshing change of pace when it comes to landlords and their rules.
“My experience has told me you get people with a lot of love in their hearts when you get pet owners,” says the 84-year-old widow, who was born in Hungary.
Most of the tenants in Guth’s 12-unit apartment house have lived there over a decade, according to Los Angeles Daily News columnist Dennis McCarthy, and any apartments that do become available are generally quickly snatched up.
Guth thinks landlords who don’t allow dogs and cats are missing the boat.
“I’ve talked to other rental property owners about it, but they just laugh,” she said. “They’re stupid. The only vacancies I’ve had are when people had to move because the economy forced them out of state for a job.
“Within a day or two, there’s a new dog or cat moving in. I can’t remember all the people, but I can remember their pets.”
As for any accidents on the carpets, Guth has found a fairly painless way to make tenants pay for that.
Rather than charging a security deposit, she installs new carpet for each incoming tenant, and requires them to pay an extra $100 a month for it. When a tenant leaves, they — having paid for it over the course of a year — can take the carpet with them.
Each tenant is allowed up to two dogs. And they can be of any size. Up to three cats are allowed. Prospective tenant dogs are interviewed, and are required to be vaccinated and wear an ID tag. Dogs have to be on a leash when they are outside the apartment.
According to the column, there’s no law that prohibits requiring tenants to have pets — just as there is no law that prohibits landlords from banning them, or banning certain breeds, or banning dogs over a certain weight.
Jerry Schiess, who manages the property for Guth and owns a shepherd-mix rescued after Hurricane Katrina, says he gets calls every day from people asking if anyone’s planning to move soon.
Terri Shea, operations manager of the 3,000-member Apartment Association of Southern California Cities, says Guth may be one of a kind: “Tve never heard of a landlord renting to only people with pets,” she said.
(Photos: Michael Owen Baker / L.A. Daily News)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apartments, discrimination, dogs, housing, judy guth, landlord, los angeles, north hollywood, pets, pets required, policies, property, rent, rentals, renting, rules, tenant
Pretty enough to be a postcard, this photo was taken Sunday during a group dog walk in Salt Lake City.
It was one of the regular bi-weekly walks staged by the organization, SLC StrutABulls, which seeks to improve the image of pit bulls by holding walks in various public locations.
Organizers chose the State Capitol this week to raise awareness about House Bill 97, which is headed to the state Senate for review, according to KSL.com. The bill would prohibit municipalities from enacting or enforcing breed-specific rules, regulations, policies or laws.
About 10 Utah cities now outlaw pit bulls or pit bull mixes, according to Natalie Schun, with SLC StrutABulls.
About 60 dogs — mostly pit bulls or mixes — and their owners walked around the grounds of the Capitol on Sunday.
“The (bad) ones that you hear about are just (a few) out of who knows how many,” said event co-organizer Kelly Lawson. “Any dog can be mean if it doesn’t get the proper socialization, exercise and attention that it needs.
“We are out to show that these are good dogs and can be good dogs no matter what breed they are.”
(Photo: Scott G. Winterton./ Deseret News)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 11th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breed-specific, breeds, capital, capitol, discrimination, dogs, group walk, house bill 97, laws, municipalities, pets, photography, pit bulls, pitbulls, policies, rules, salt lake city, strutabulls, utah, walk
A homeowner’s association at Paradise Lakes Resort doesn’t have weight limits when it comes to human residents, and we guess that’s a good thing — even though the condo community is a clothing-optional one.
But the association’s rules run a little stricter for dogs, including one that bans any dogs over 25 pounds — apparently even when it’s a guide dog that belongs to a legally blind resident of the nudist community.
By now you’ve probably guessed that this can only be happening in Florida, specifically in Lutz, where a homeowner’s association has told Sharon Fowler she needs to get rid of her black Labrador, Laura, or move out, according to a lawsuit.
Fowler filed a lawsuit against the association last year. It was dismissed by one judge, but now that dismissal has been overturned by an appeals court, and Fowler has renewed her fight to keep the dog she says she can’t get around without.
“She helps me to get around curbs and obstacles,” Fowler told the Tampa Bay Times. “She’s 100 percent necessary to me. She’s my lifeline.”
According to a lawsuit filed last year, Fowler received a letter from the association telling her to get rid of the dog or move out.
The association said the dog violated their weight limits — something that wasn’t pointed out when Fowler filled out an application, disclosing the dog’s weight, when she moved in.
Even when Fowler provided documentation of her disability, the association did not withdraw the notice of the violations, according to the lawsuit.
“I felt demeaned, and I felt degraded,” Fowler said. “I’ve never felt so degraded.”
Her lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages for mental anguish.
“It’s the principle of the fact,” Fowler’s husband, Craig, said. “The board needs to know they cannot bully us around.”
Fowler says she has been told to only walk the dog in specific areas, and stay out of the way of pedestrians. She’s also been told her dog is out of control, which she says is not the case.
“My dog is a highly trained service animal,” she said.
“Paradise Lakes Resort does not discriminate against any person with physical disabilities and does not prevent any person with service animals from visiting the resort,” owner Jerry Buchanan said.
Fowler’s accusations were directed at a homeowners condominium association not connected with the resort.
Fowler says she has a rare autoimmune disease called leukocytoclastic vasculitis, which has already affected her sight and could affect her hearing.
She doesn’t want to move because she has learned her way around Paradise Lakes, and appreciates being able to live in a clothing optional community.
(Photo: Fowler and Laura; by Brendan Fitterer / Tampa Bay Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, assistance dogs, association, black lab, blind, clothing, clothing optional, community, condo, dog, dogs, florida, guide dog, lab, labrador, laura, lawsuit, legally blind, lutz, nudist colony, nudists, nudity, paradise lakes resort, pets, rules, service dogs, weight limits
The ruling, issued by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, pertained to a mutt named Kayla, who — though not a service dog or a certified therapy dog — provided emotional support to her owner.
The complaint was brought against the owners of the Brighton Gardens building by Richard M. Blake, who was diagnosed with HIV infection more than two decades ago, according to the Boston Globe.
After his diagnosis, Blake isolated himself and rarely left the house.
“He was depressed, basically lounging around the apartment all day long, and his weight rose and blood pressure got out of control,’’ said Denise McWilliams, general counsel for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts.
Blake’s doctor recommended a dog to help lift Blake’s mood and improve his mental and physical health.
“She’s just given me sort of a routine in my life,’’ Blake said of the boxer mix he got in 2008. “She’s given me a lot of joy. Animals just seem to make it hard for you to be in a bad mood … Ever since I have had her, the walks and the tons of exercise I do with her have helped.’’
Blake said his landlord gave him permission to get the dog, but two months later tenants were notified that a no-pet policy in their leases would be enforced.
After unsuccessful attempts to get the landlords to make an exception, Blake filed a complaint with the state commission in December, 2008.
In its ruling, the commission said that evidence “supports a finding that requiring Complainant to give up his dog would seriously jeopardize his emotional and physical well-being.’’
Posted by John Woestendiek April 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aids, assistance, brighton gardens, commission, discrimination, dogs, emotional, health, hiv/aids, housing, kayla, landlords, massachusetts, richard blake, rules, service, support, tenants, therapy