A new dog-friendly café does not allow pit bulls and that is leaving some Ottawa pet owners peeved.

Norma Dunn is set to open Sit'N'Stay Dog Café in Ottawa's Hintonburg neighbourhood at the end of October. Pet owners are allowed to bring their dogs inside when they buy some coffee or pre-packaged food.

Dunn started working on opening her business in mid-August. She has fewer rules that a normal café but said it was like a bar. If someone is drunk or rowdy they are escorted out, just as dogs who act out of line will lead to the pet and its owner told to leave.


Pit bull owner Tammy Perkins said businesses should not discriminate against pit bulls who do not act out and have muzzles, as is enforced by Ontario law. ((CBC))

There is one obstacle, though, facing Dunn's business: no pit bulls allowed. That declaration is now spelled out on a sign in the new restaurant's front window at 1096 Somerset Street West.

Dunn defended that rule saying the liability and cost was too high. The terms of her lease also say she would not be able to open if pit bulls were allowed and the insurance company would also opt out.

"You put a pit bull in front of a mother with two little kids and you’re going to see fear," she said.

Pit bull owners accuse business of discrimination

That has left pet owners such as Tammy Perkins upset. Perkins flooded the new store's Facebook page, along with other dog owners, in defiance. People are also calling Dunn discriminatory against the animals.

'I like pit bulls. There are few dogs that scare me...a lot of companies just would not insure me.' —Norma Dunn, café owner

"I just think it's a disgrace," said Perkins, who owns a nine-year-old pit bull named Thunder.

"My dog is still a dog. He's never been violent but because of this he's not allowed to go in."

Dunn argued her store is only following the rules set by her landlord and wants the specialty café to be seen as accepting of pets.

"I like pit bulls. There are few dogs that scare me," she said, "A lot of companies just would not insure me."

Pit bulls have been banned in Ontario since 2005, but some of the dogs still roam the province legally because they were born before that date. They also have to be muzzled and leashed at all times.

With files from the CBC's Ashley Burke