The health department is cracking down on canine-friendly establishments, but it's not the government's place to forbid adults from running small risks
When I lived in New York City, I sometimes patronized a Park Slope bar where people would sit on the outdoor patio with their dogs. In Washington, D.C., I was a regular at Solly's, another bar that is dog friendly. There I'd stand, drinking an IPA from a pint, or if money was tight, PBR from a can.
Was I putting my health at risk?
That is what New York City's health department would have me believe. The killjoys are going to strictly enforce a heretofore ignored regulation that prohibits animals anyplace where food is served:
During inspections, many owners said they were surprised to learn that dogs were not allowed even in outdoor seating areas. Neither does a bar's dearth of actual food products provide any cover. "Beer, wine and spirits have always been classified as food," a department spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail. Only service dogs are permitted in spaces that serve food or drink of any kind.
Once again, public health officials and the lawmakers who write the rules are embracing a wrongheaded view of the role they ought to play in a free society. It's one thing to inspect a restaurant's kitchen for rodent or cockroach infestation. The consumer can't easily do so him or herself, and you'd be hard-pressed to find one that would insist on their right to eat food with rat droppings in it. Or consider mandatory signs that tell employees to wash their hands. A good reminder!