The Second Wedge Brewing Company in Uxbridge, Ont. is in the midst of a dispute with Durham Region — and so, it seems, are many of their customers.
Until recently, the establishment had a dog-friendly policy, allowing patrons to bring their pooches while having a pint. But that all changed following an anonymous complaint.
“It’s depressing. He’s part of our family,” says regular customer James Drake, referring to his family’s canine companion, Oliver.
“I like to come with my wife and kids and we like to bring our dog Oliver, as well.”
Now he, along with dozens of other customers, must leave their pets on the sidelines.
Rob Garrard, co-owner of Second Wedge, says it all stems from two Durham Regional Health inspections, which were themselves prompted by an anonymous complaint. When finished, the regional health inspector noticed there was a dog on site.
Second Wedge has been in Uxbridge for a little more than three years, and dogs, Garrard says, have never been a problem.
“We’ve been inspected, dogs have been here, inspectors have commented on it,” he says. “But because they never wrote that down, it never happened according to the health department.”
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According to Ontario’s Food Premises Regulations, “Every room where food is prepared shall be kept free from live birds or animals.”
But in the case of Second Wedge, they got rid of all of their food offerings.
In fact, after a conversation with inspectors, Garrard claims he was told that dogs could remain if they changed what they served.
“We were told if we get rid of food, you can have dogs,” he explained.
“They deny saying that now.”
The reality of not allowing dogs inside is upsetting to the owners, who also own a dog, a black Lab named Sadie. Being a dog-friendly establishment is also something Second Wedge is known for in the community — and it leaves many customers upset at the sudden change.
“I was very disappointed,” says another customer, Steve Snoddon. “I think it’s a step backwards; it’s bureaucratic.”
An announcement of the change in policy was posted on the brewery’s door and on social media. But on Friday, the owners had to give customers the bad news in person when they came with their dogs.
At one point, staff even set up a tent, allowing customers to give their dogs shelter from the sun.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” says local resident Janis Gorrie. “They just react to one complaint and don’t seem to listen to what the masses say.”
And the owners fear this could impact their business, too.
“It’s going to have a huge impact,” says Garrard.
“They’re not just going to leave their dog in the car so they can sit here and have a beer, they just aren’t going to come anymore.”
Officials with the Durham Region Health Department declined to comment on camera, but released a statement saying, in part, that the agency had “received a complaint and found the brewery violated provincial health legislation, by allowing dogs on site.”
However, the health authority did say that a review is underway to determine next steps.
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Second Wedge isn’t the only Canadian brewery to have been forced to ban its furry friends. In Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Brightwood Brewery was also told no dogs, and also because of a complaint. They even launched a petition to drum up support in making an exception to the rule.
It’s the owners’ hope at Second Wedge that an exception will be made in their case — both for the sake of their business and their beloved pet.
“We want to bring Sadie and all of her friends back. We can’t wait to bring back normal to our place.”
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