Should dogs be allowed in pubs?
Mel Hadcroft was ''very disappointed'' when he was told his four-legged companion could not join him for lunch at a country pub.
While allowing any animal on food premises is technically illegal, many Christchurch cafes and bars are biting back.
Hadcroft, of Bryndwr, was driving back from the Weka Gorge on Sunday when he saw a sign for a ''historic English pub'' near Leithfield.
His faithful companion Stan, a german shepherd, was in the car with him.
''On ordering a beer and a meal, I found the beer garden, so got the dog and his water and settled down for a nice lunch.''
He said the waitress told him no dogs were allowed because it was a health risk.
''When I went in to pay for my meal the owner, who had already told me she had two cats, was standing behind the bar holding one of them and going on about how there wasn't going to be any dogs in her pub.''
Old Leithfield Hotel publican Soni Goodley said it was the hotel's policy not to allow dogs.
''We're a restaurant and people eat in the garden. I have signs stating that dogs aren't allowed and I have cats. This is my house and it's my cats' house too,'' she said.
The previous owners of the hotel had dogs and allowed patrons to take their dogs into the beer garden, she said.
The Food Hygiene Regulation of 1974 state that ''no animal is permitted on the premises'', with the exception of guide dogs.
It then states the rule does not apply to ''any cat in the possession of an occupier of food premises'' if ''adequate precautions'' are taken by the owner to protect food from contamination by the cat.
''The cat is permitted to be on the premises only to such extent as is reasonably necessary to effect the suppression of rodents,'' it adds.
Hadcroft said it was a ''silly rule'' that needed to be changed.
''I wouldn't want to see dogs, or any animal, inside a pub, but when they are only outside and your food is brought to you and couldn't have possibly been contaminated by the dog, then I really don't see the hygiene issue.''
Hadcroft enjoys a couple of pints at Robbies Bar and Bistro every Sunday after walking Stan and said staff had ''always been very welcoming and friendly''.
James Jameson, owner of the St Asaph St Kitchen and Stray Dog Bar, said dogs were an extension of people's lives.
''It's part of the experience, just like providing a bike stand for people. At Stray Dog we take water out to the dogs as automatically as we do for people.''
Jameson, who owned Le Cafe in Worcester Blvd, said in his many years in the business he had experienced ''very few issues'' with allowing dogs outside on his premises.
He remembers a time when a dog tied to a chair at Le Cafe took off across Worcester Blvd after a cat.
He said he was ''not at all concerned'' about the repercussions of breaking the law.
''It's never been an issue and I wouldn't expect it to become an issue. And if inspectors were to turn up, then I think we would challenge that and try to work together,'' he said.
Read Mel Hadcroft's letter to the editor that sparked today's debate:
"On Jan 4 I decided to go for a drive and find a nice country pub for lunch. So I loaded up the dog and headed off. I found what looked like a nice country pub.
"On ordering a beer and a meal, I found the beer garden, so got the dog and his water and settled down for a nice lunch.
"The waitress then informed me ''No dogs'', as it was a health risk. The landlady added that she had two cats, and dogs were not allowed.
"Clearly she has never been to the UK, where dogs are part and parcel of all country pub beer gardens during summer."