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Halifax restaurants calling on province to change food safety rules following warnings about dogs

WATCH: A petition has been launched by several businesses to change the provincial regulations that prevent dogs from joining their owners on patios. Alicia Draus reports.

In July, Brightwood Brewery in Dartmouth announced they were no longer able to allow dogs in their taproom after receiving a warning from a food safety inspector. Now two more restaurants said they’ve also received warnings.

Stubborn Goat Beer Garden received a warning from an inspector last week, and is no longer allowing dogs on their patio.

“It was the result of one complaint,” said Paul Agsteribbe, general manager.

Another waterfront restaurant, Stayner’s Wharf, was given a warning on Tuesday. It took owner Todd Abbass by surprise as the establishment has allowed dogs on their patio for 18 years and he said not once have they ever had an issue.

“[The inspector] gave us a warning that we shouldn’t do it anymore, or can’t do it anymore,” said Abbass

“I said look, this is kind of crazy, I’m going to keep doing it.”

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Both are now backing a petition started by Brightwood Brewery last month which calls for a change to the regulations.

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

Provincial regulations currently prohibit live animals in food establishments with the exceptions of service animals – as long as they pose no risk of contaminating food – and edible fish, crustaceans, shellfish or live fish in an aquarium.

Agsteribbe says while he understands why service animals are allowed, in terms of food safety there is no difference between having a service dog, or a regular dog, so as long as the animal is well behaved they should be allowed.

“It’s practiced around the world and I don’t see it being a threat to food safety,” he said.

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Meanwhile Abbass says there could be an economic impact with fewer people visiting the waterfront in the summer if dogs aren’t allowed anywhere.

“There are so many pet owners that like to explore our city, that like to be able to sit on a patio and enjoy a nice meal and they don’t want to leave their dogs at home,” he said.

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Food safety regulations fall under the department of Environment.  On Thursday, Environment Minister Gordon Wilson was asked if he is considering easing up on regulations.

“At this point in time, this isn’t something I’m considering, but I’m always listening and always open to hearing what the general public has to say,” said Wilson.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Brightwood’s petition had garnered over 11,500 signatures.

Co-owner of Brightwood, Ian Lawson, says they are writing letters to MLAs to get support and are planning to take their petition to the provincial government.

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