Dogs in Tasting Rooms – A Petition to the Ontario Government 2019-11-04T13:31:16-05:00

Dogs in Tasting Rooms – A Petition to the Ontario Government

Update November 4, 2019: Thank you to everyone who shared and signed our petition! It was tabled in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on Monday, October 28 (see hansard here), and a proposal to change the law was also introduced that day as part of the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act. The proposed amendments, which would take effect January 1, 2020, are now open for public consultation. We urge you to submit your comments by the November 27 here: Ontario’s Regulatory Registry


Update October 21, 2019: IT’S TIME TO BRING THE PETITIONS HOME! If you have sheets and can drop them off or mail them, we would really appreciate having them back here no later than Friday, October 25. If you have no way to get them to us, please send us an email at info@thesecondwedge.ca and we’ll send out a stamped envelope. Thank you!

We’ve had a dog-friendly tasting room and beer garden since we opened our doors in 2015. In early August 2019, that was challenged. Now we’re petitioning the Ontario Government to change the law that’s hurting our business and could hurt many others like ours.

FAQs? We’ve got ’em. Or view a timeline of events.

To petition the Ontario Legislature, signatures must be original and handwritten. Here’s a current list of locations where you can sign. We’ll update it daily.

NORTH DURHAM REGION

SOUTH DURHAM REGION

YORK REGION

PETERBOROUGH

TORONTO

MISSISSAUGA

HAMILTON

COBOURG

CALEDON

KINGSTON

OTTAWA

HALIBURTON

WATERLOO

BRUCE COUNTY

FAQs

Q. There are lots of dog friendly tasting rooms in Ontario. Are you sure this is a provincial issue?

A. Yes. Ontario Regulation 493/17, Part 3, Section 14 states that “Every room where food is prepared, processed, packaged, served, transported, manufactured, handled, sold, offered for sale or displayed shall be kept free from live birds or animals.”

Q. So how is it that other breweries are allowed to have dogs?

A. Many inspectors use common sense and don’t make it into an issue – to the point where many breweries assume that dogs are legally allowed in tasting rooms without a kitchen. As we’ve seen, however, things can change suddenly if a complaint is received.

Q. Why are you trying to change the law?

A. Our customers tell us that the law makes no sense and they would prefer we carry on being dog friendly. Our colleagues in the craft beer community tell us they’re frustrated by the inconsistent way the law is applied in the province. Changing the law would provide transparency, clarity and common sense.

Q. Don’t tasting rooms legally need to have food onsite?

A. No. According to the AGCO, “Licensees under a Manufacturer’s Limited Liquor Sales Licence are not required to provide light meals because of the intent and nature of ‘By the Glass’ licensing.” We’re encouraged to, though, because who wants their customers to consume alcohol on an empty stomach? We don’t.

Q. What’s the deadline to sign?

A. We’ll go to the end of September at the earliest, and possibly a bit later. The Ontario Legislature returns from its recess at the end of October.

Q. How can I share this petition with others?

A. The Ontario Legislature requires us to collect handwritten, original petition signatures. We need as many sharers across the province as we can get! You can access a printable file in this folder. We’d really appreciate if you read the “SHARERS: please read” file first.

Timeline of events

Fall 2015 – Pre-inspection with the Health Department. We ask, “We don’t have a kitchen and will be offering only packaged and assembled foods. Can we allow dogs?” We’re told yes.

December 2015 to July 2019 – Thousands of happy customers bring their dogs or enjoy spending time among other people’s dogs in our tasting room and beer garden. Hundreds of puppies are socialized. Everyone is greeted by Sadie, our black lab, aka the hostess with the mostest. We pass all our inspections.

July 29, 2019 – Someone sends in a complaint to Durham Region Health. Durham Region Health investigates while Sadie is onsite; the report says that we, the business owner, state that our dog never goes behind the bar. Inspection result: Compliant.

August 7, 2019 – Durham Region Health receives another complaint. This time we’re told dogs can’t be onsite because we sell prepared foods. We ask, if we get rid of all our food, can we continue to allow dogs? We’re told yes. We post on Facebook that all food is being removed but THE DOGS WIN.

August 8, 2019 – We call our inspector’s manager to find out why we can’t have packaged foods in a dog-friendly space. We’re told that not only are packaged foods not allowed, but simply serving beer means we can’t have dogs onsite. We update our messaging, asking customers to please leave their dogs at home till we sort out this issue.

August 9, 2019 – Uxbridge Mayor Dave Barton and Pickering-Uxbridge MPP Peter Bethlenfalvy drop in and express their support. Later that day, Mayor Barton arranges a meeting with Durham Region’s Director of Health Protection and Medical Officer of Health. We agree to be patient for a few weeks while they conduct a review.

August 28, 2019 – Durham Region Health lets us know there’s nothing farther they can do other than ask the Ontario Government to conduct a review.

August 30, 2019 – We launch our petition.

September 2, 2019 – It’s pointed out to us by another brewery that Ontario’s Food Safety and Quality Act defines “food” as food and beverages – except liquor, as defined in the Liquor Act. In the Liquor Act, “liquor” is defined as wine, spirits and beer. We take this to mean that if we don’t serve/sell/display actual food, dogs can legally be onsite. 

September 4, 2019 – We remove all food from the tasting room and bring Sadie back to work. We continue to share our petition across Ontario, asking for businesses selling low-risk/non-hazardous food to have the right to allow dogs.