Bars may have right to decide on dogs

Last updated 05:00 16/01/2013
Lydia Stoddart and Amelia Kininmonth

CANINE GUESTS: Lydia Stoddart and Amelia Kininmonth with their dogs in Volstead bar in Christchurch.

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Bar and restaurant owners may soon be able to decide whether dogs are allowed on their premises.

The Food Bill, now before Parliament, would give proprietors the right to choose whether man's best friend was welcome or not.

The Food Hygiene Regulations 1974 say that "no animal is permitted" on premises where food is prepared or sold.

However, some Christchurch hospitality operators spoken to took a relaxed approach to the rules, welcoming dogs on to their premises as long as they did not cause trouble.

A spokesman for the Ministry for Primary Industries said the bill, which would replace the regulations and the Food Act 1981, would require operators to take responsibility for food safety in a way that was appropriate for their businesses.

"Obviously they will need to keep unwanted animals out of their restaurants, and especially the kitchens and food-handling areas, but in many cases there will be little risk to food safety if, for example, pet dogs are allowed into outdoor dining areas."

James Jameson, owner of the St Asaph St Kitchen and Stray Dog Bar, said business owners should make their own decisions.

"In my case, we are animal-friendly and people-friendly, and I would embrace everybody and their pets."

Jameson, who owned Le Cafe in Worcester Blvd, said dogs were "such a part" of people's lives.

"If nothing else, it is just sound business practice to accommodate people with their dogs."

He said dogs were allowed outside only and there were strict rules about staff hygiene and interaction with people's pets.

Volstead Trading Company venue manager Ben Patton said he too allowed dogs, but understood why some establishments did not.

"Every place is slightly different," Patton said. "You can't say it's cut and dried across the board."

Volstead regular Lydia Stoddard said she loved taking her siberian husky Belka, 4, with her to the pub.

"I like sitting with her and having a drink. She's always really well behaved - she doesn't sniff other people's food or anything.

"Other people like having her there too, probably because she's a good-looking dog".

She believed bars should be able to choose whether to have dogs on the premises.

"It should be their choice. I'd definitely look for bars that allowed me to take Belka with me"

Beat Street manager Bek Lynch said the cafe allowed dogs outside as long as there was "mutual respect" between the dog owners and staff.

She said that, as long as businesses were set up responsibly, there were no health and safety issues.

"We have regulars who come purely because of it," she said.

Old Leithfield Hotel publican Soni Goodley said she did not allow dogs because she had cats, but supported the issue being an individual's choice.

The bill has been heard by Parliament's primary production select committee and is awaiting a second reading in the House.

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- The Press

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