‘We believe dogs are family members:’ Local taproom calls for change to food safety regulations

WATCH: Nova Scotia provincial regulations say dogs aren’t allowed inside food establishments and after a complaint against them, Brightwood Brewery owners think the province should take a case by case approach. Alicia Draus reports.

The Brightwood Brewery taproom in downtown Dartmouth considered itself to be pet friendly, welcoming dogs inside, up until mid July.

According to co-owner Ian Lawson it was something that happened naturally over time.

“Our taproom manager Kayla started bringing in her dog sometimes, I started bringing in my dog,” he said.

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“The odd customer would see us with our dogs in the taproom and ask us if it was okay, and we didn’t see anything wrong with it.”

But the problem is that Brightwood serves food, and according to provincial regulations live animals are not permitted in food establishments. However, there are two exceptions to that rule – service animals so long as they pose no risk of contaminating food, and edible fish, crustaceans, shellfish or live fish in an aquarium.

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Two weeks ago a food inspector dropped by citing an anonymous complaint about dogs on the premise, warning the establishment that animals are not allowed.

“We would lose our food establishment permit,” said Lawson.

So now the owners of Brightwood have started a petition to add a third exception to current regulations.

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“We’d like to add a part C that allows a food inspector to determine if any other animal would be allowed in the establishment if it did not pose a health risk,” said Lawson.

That would be similar to rules in Alberta, where restaurant owners can apply for a permit to allow animals on the premise with food inspectors able to make decisions case by case.

Lawson said there is no reason their taproom shouldn’t be allowed to have dogs inside.

“We have concrete floors, we have wooden tables and seating, very limited fabric only a couple of pillows,” he explained.

“As well the majority of our food, almost all of our food is made offsite. We’ll bring in New Zealand hand pies from Humble Pie and samosas from Staff of Life.”

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Dog owner Jessica Lyle supports the owners and says as long as there is no risk to food safety it should ultimately be up to the establishment owners to decide.

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“If the establishment owner wants to allow pets to come and frankly if people don’t like pets, or really we’re talking about dogs so if they don’t like dogs then they don’t have to come,” she said.

Brightwood is no longer allowing dogs and Lawson said they’ve already had to turn away dozens of customers due to the regulations, but they are hoping their petition can bring about change.

Lawson said they are now trying to find MLAs who support their cause and might be able to help them change regulations.

“We don’t want to have a single anonymous complaint take away what we had,” he said.

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