When the Eventbrite link for a yoga class at DC Brau went live, it almost seemed too good to be true. The class, due to take place in the Northeast DC brewery‘s building, would give participants the opportunity to do yoga alongside a pair of cuddly baby goats before enjoying a complementary beer next door at DC Brau’s tasting room.
Both class sessions sold out in 24 hours.
Then the organizers—DC Brau in partnership with yogi Beth Wolfe—hit a snag. On Tuesday, DC Brau reached out to the DC Department of Health (DOH) for a permit. They figured it’d be no problem, says tasting room manager Lizzie Palumbo; the class wouldn’t take place in the building where DC Brau brews its beer, so no one thought there’d be problems with health codes. Plus, the DC Code states that “exotic animals” (goats fall into this category) may be brought into the city for “special events and educational purposes.”
That’s not how DOH saw it. According to DOH spokesperson Jasmine Gossett, DC Brau was turned down for the “exact same reason” the department didn’t let Congressional Cemetery host goat yoga. That class would be “a violation of a ‘NO TOUCH’ policy by spectators for animals participating in District events,” DOH told the nonprofit that runs the cemetery. In a typical goat yoga class, the goats are allowed to roam, snuggle, and clamber over participants.
According to Palumbo, after a phone call to notify DC Brau that hosting the class was forbidden, the DOH followed up with an email to warn them that should the brewery host the class anyway, the animals would be “impounded.”
“We’re pretty bummed,” says Palumbo, adding that, “we don’t want to do anything that would potentially upset the health department.”
While the class will no longer be hosted at DC Brau, Wolfe is looking to move it to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, where she’s previously hosted puppy and kitten yoga. (Virginia allows goat yoga.) Meanwhile, Palumbo still wants to host an animal yoga class at DC Brau, and said she’s reached out to the Humane Rescue Alliance to ask whether it would partner on a rescue dog and cat class.
“Hopefully we can still do something involving animals and yoga…where we’re not breaking any laws,” says Palumbo.