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writing for godot

Dog ban at D.C. bar patios could be repealed by council

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Written by Heather Miller   
Monday, 02 October 2017 02:57

The pleasures of Andypants Sherwood, like those of other dogs, are intense but few. The D.C. Department of Health put a stop to one of them two weeks ago.

Andypants, unofficial mascot of the Midlands, enjoys lounging in his doghouse on the patio at the trendy Parkview watering hole. At least he did until Sept. 19, when a city health inspector showed up to tell his owner, Midlands proprietor Peyton Sherwood, that regulators were enforcing a forgotten section of the health code that prohibits dogs from restaurant and bar patios.

Since then Sherwood has reluctantly been following the rules and serving an exclusively human clientele.

"We became a really dog-centric place, and it was really great,"

he said wistfully. “It’s just not as cute anymore.”

 

The health department’s visit to the Midlands, which came on the heels of a similar admonition to the dog-friendly Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights, would turn out to be the opening salvo in a fight that is now echoing through the corridors of D.C. city hall.

As news of the crackdown has spread, dog owners have inundated D.C. Council members with complaints, leading to emergency legislation to repeal the ban that will be introduced Tuesday.

 

The Midlands beer garden co- owners Trent Allen, left, Robin Webb and Peyton Sherwood at their establishment with Andypants, Sherwood’s dog. (Essdras M Suarez/For the Washington Post)

The clash recalls a similar episode this year, when the Department of Health sought unsuccessfully to ban backyard chickens, require licenses for cats and mandate how quickly dog feces must be removed from private property.

In a city transformed by an influx of the young and affluent, the debate over dogs’ patio rights has a distinctly new-school flavor. A Twitter account, @PupsOnPatios, quickly sprang up to advocate on behalf of the evicted canines. Some of the affected establishments are in neighborhoods where a middle-class family would struggle to afford a mortgage on Andypants’s doghouse.

Yet it also has the makings of an old-fashioned political street fight, with council members taking up arms against an agency under the control of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D). Leading the charge is Health Committee Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7), who says that the department’s effort to kick dogs off bar patios shows badly misordered priorities in a city struggling with public-health problems that include widespread opioid addiction and a deeply troubled public hospital.

Gray, a former one-term mayor widely viewed as a potential challenger to Bowser in 2018, also blocked the health department’s efforts to step up regulation of cats and chickens.

 

 

Source: Washington Post

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