By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Dog lovers across the city are fighting to bring their furry friends along with them when they go out to grab a beer.

Many taprooms connected to breweries in Minneapolis are dog-friendly and even welcome pets inside, but it’s technically a health code violation even though taprooms don’t prepare food. Now there’s an effort to get a variance for that rule.

On a cold night customers still wanted a cold one at Sisyphus Brewing Company, but they weren’t the only people or animals eager to get inside.

“It’s kind of part of the atmosphere,” said brewery co-owner Catherine Cuddy as two dogs worked their way around the floor.

Little Lucy came with her owner Bailee Duke.

“In the winter there’s not many places that we can go where she can get a lot of energy out and get attention,” Duke said.

Cuddy’s dog Albert and other canines are welcome inside, too, but the Minneapolis Department of Health disagrees. Breweries, including their taprooms, aren’t supposed to have dogs in them even though many dogs have been seen in them across the city.

According to city councilor Lisa Goodman, a staunch supporter of pet-friendly environments, even though taprooms don’t prepare food they do serve beer, which has water in it, which according to the health code is food.

Council Member Goodman and Council Member Andrew Johnson ordered the city to draft a variance to the health code to allow dogs in taprooms, but the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has to approve it.

“Certain sections of the taproom would have to be no dogs so that people who have allergy or a fear of dogs it would alleviate some of those concerns,” said Cuddy.

Other rules include proper cleaning methods and making sure dogs are leashed. Despite the safeguards, some people are against the idea of dogs being inside. They’re worried about cleanliness, allergies, and possible disruptions from the animals.

“I understand that. What I will say is that there are a lot of people and especially children that are a lot messier than dogs,” said Ali Jarvis, founder of Sidewalk Dog Media, a group that strives for all things dog friendly in Minnesota.

Jarvis started a petition pushing for the variance to get approved. It will also collect information and suggestions from dog owners which will then be submitted to the city as part of the variance request. She said 800 people have provided information so far.

“It’s very rare that you see any sort of issues with the dogs,” she said. “And like I mentioned before with taprooms, typically there’s a concrete floor. Very easy to sanitize at the end of the day. For the most part, well trained dogs aren’t gonna be having accidents and behaving poorly and if they do those people should leave. “

A city spokesperson said Dan Huff, Minneapolis Environmental Health Director, has been visiting taprooms to gather feedback and information to help with the variance. Goodman hopes the variance is presented to the state within the next several weeks.

Jeff Wagner