Nova Scotia

Stubborn Goat Beer Garden on tight leash for violating dog ban

A popular outdoor bar on the Halifax waterfront is the latest business to be put in the doghouse for being pooch-friendly. That goes against Nova Scotia food safety rules that don't allow pet dogs in eating establishments.

Pooch-friendly bars want new rules to make it legal, but the province isn't considering it

David Luckey said it's 'awful' that he isn't allowed to bring Cujo onto the Stubborn Goat patio like he did last year. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

Another bar is in the doghouse for violating Nova Scotia food safety regulations that ban dogs from eating establishments.

The Stubborn Goat Beer Garden, a large patio on the Halifax waterfront, was visited by an inspector on Tuesday, one day after someone complained about four dogs being on the premises.

"That warning was very clear and we know that we're on the radar," said Geir Simensen, Stubborn Goat co-owner. "We thought with patios, it's maybe a little bit less strict, but it turns out that it's equally strict."

This comes on the heels of a similar warning issued at a taproom in Dartmouth two weeks ago. The owners launched a petition to allow dog-friendly bars by adopting regulations similar to ones found in western Canada.

Over the last three years, Stubborn Goat became known as a dog-friendly outdoor space on the harbour. Instagram accounts show images of smiling patrons enjoying the patio and their puppies.

Geir Simensen, left, and Kyle Drake are two of the owners of Stubborn Goat Beer Garden. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

Simensen said unleashed dogs were not allowed, and only once or twice was a noisy dog and its owner asked to leave.

"Three barks and you're out, kind of thing," he said.

In an effort to accommodate people who don't love canines, the owners designated the self-serve area — where no food is served — as a zone for pooches and their owners.

But that's still a violation according to the inspection report. It states dogs are not permitted in the "surroundings of the facility" and "the patio/dining area is part of your food establishment."

The exception is service dogs as long as they don't pose a risk of contaminating food.

Rather than drawing the ire of food safety inspectors, the Stubborn Goat is no longer allowing dogs on its premises.

"We expect daily visits, and then the fines would just start piling up," said Simensen.

Charges come with hefty fines

A first violation carries a fine ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, which enforces the rules, said in an email that no charges have been laid this year or last, as the focus has been on "education."

Stubborn Goat is urging customers to sign the petition that was started by Brightwood Brewery. The petition has gathered more than 8,500 signatures.

The dog zone was in the self-serve area where no food is served. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

Nova Scotia Environment Minister, Gordon Wilson, appears unswayed.

"At this point in time, I haven't heard anything that would raise my interest in dealing with that," he said Thursday.

Simensen said more than 40 customers and their dogs have been turned away since Stubborn Goat removed its dog-friendly zone this week.

Mike Moors wanted a cold beer and showed up with his "best friend," Benson, a golden retriever puppy.

"He loves to be patted by other people, so it's unfortunate that other people couldn't enjoy having a dog," said Moors.

Benson and his owner, Mike Moors, are among the dozens of customers with dogs in tow who have been turned away this week. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

He understands some people aren't fans of dogs. But for well-behaved ones "if you can keep them tied up like this and [are] attentive to where it's going, it's pretty good," Moors said.

Vancouver tourists David Luckey and Marc Barre brought their little dog Cujo to the Stubborn Goat last year and were disappointed they couldn't on Thursday.

However, they improvised. While one partner enjoyed a beer, the other was outside calming Cujo. After a few gulps of beer, they switched dog duty.

"It's a little bit silly. But we still get to eat, she gets an enjoyable afternoon and we get our beer," said Barre.

About the Author

Elizabeth Chiu is a reporter in Nova Scotia and hosts Atlantic Tonight on Saturdays at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. in Newfoundland. If you have a story idea for her, contact her at elizabeth.chiu@cbc.ca.

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