Food  |  Pets

DC Health Department Cracks Down on Dogs on Bar and Restaurant Patios

The Midlands and Wonderland Ballroom have been told they can't have dogs outdoors.

AndyPants is the bar dog at the Midlands. Photo by Jessica Sidman.

Andy Pants has been evicted from his beer garden dog house. Peyton Sherwood, owner of the Midlands in Park View, says a DC Department of Health inspector paid him a visit yesterday and told him that his bar dog, and all other dogs, would no longer be allowed at the outdoor drinking spot.

And it’s not just there. Last week, the same inspector also visited the Wonderland Ballroom, Popville reported. “They came by and left a flyer and said absolutely no animals on premise except for service animals,” the bar told the blog.

It turns out that this has long been the law. It’s just not often enforced.

“The DC Food Code prohibits animals in commercially licensed food establishments. This is not a new regulation and DOH has enforced when observed,” says DOH spokesperson Jasmine Gossett in an email. “We inspected several locations based on consumer complaints about the presence of dogs, of which Midlands was included in.”

“It’s very disappointing, because everyone loves bringing their dogs out to the patio,” Sherwood says. While he understands why it might be a good idea not to have pets inside a restaurant or bar, he doesn’t get why they should also be banned from outdoor spaces. “There are rats. There are opossums. There are raccoons and squirrels and pigeons that are all over patios in Washington, DC. But having a well taken care of, loved, and vaccinated animal on a leash is not OK.”

Sherwood says the inspector told him that someone recently complained about dogs at bars in the Washington Post. But he wasn’t able to find such an article.

Sherwood is now calling on people to contact their councilmembers and DOH Director LaQuandra Nesbitt. He’s also going to be talking with one of his Advisory Neighborhood Commission reps about starting a petition to change the law.

As for Andy Pants?

“He’s going to have to stay home in his air-conditioned apartment with his giant bed,” Sherwood says.

UPDATE (2 PM):  After hearing from a number of constituents, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau is working on emergency legislation with health committee chair Vincent Gray to address dogs on patios. “There aren’t any details to share yet,” says Tom Fazzini, Nadeau’s deputy chief of staff. “The earliest it could be up would be the Oct 3 session.”

UPDATE (4:45 PM): DOH sends a new statement: “We are aware of the concerns about the enforcement of the current health code and will review best practices and evaluate the agency’s posture on the matter.”

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.