I admit it — I’m nuts about my dog. If I could take my border collie Annie with me everywhere I go I would be a happy woman. Why? Well, first of all, she’s a genius. Second, she makes me laugh all the time. And finally, she loves me unconditionally, with enthusiasm that never wavers. Every time I come home, it’s the same black and white whirlwind of wiggling joy.
Plus, dogs have a calming effect on humans. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 70 scientific studies concluded that people with pets have lower heart rates and blood pressure than non-pet owners, in addition to a reduction in loneliness. People with psychiatric disorders like anxiety saw a reduction in fear and stress after spending just a few minutes with an animal.
Forty-four percent of Americans are dog owners, and I have a sneaking suspicion that many of them feel the same way as I do about their four-legged friends and would bring them along in their daily lives if they could. Many craft brewery owners in the Yakima area realize this and allow customers to bring their dogs along as they’re tipping back a cold beer.
You see, many of them are dog owners too — like Ty Paxton, co-owner of Single Hill Brewing. “We wanted our space to be Yakima’s living room,” he says, “and in my living room there are dogs and they’re part of the family. So being open to all demographics including dog parents is something we wanted to do.”
Dogs visiting the brewery must be on a leash and must be well-behaved. Single Hill has been open since June of 2018, and Ty says the only incidents they’ve had are a few loud barkers. “People who I have asked to leave because their dog was barking were extremely respectful, they’re like — ‘I’m so sorry,’” he says. Ty says he sees a dog there nearly every day, and more on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.
“It seems like even the people who are here without dogs are extremely happy there are dogs here,” he says with a grin. Joe Daily, co-owner of Yakima’s Valley Brewing Co., says he’s blown away by the number of people who want to drink beer with their dogs.
“You wouldn’t believe the number of calls we receive in regard to animal lovers asking if they can bring their dogs into our brewery,” he says. “There are so many people who love to bring their furry friends with them wherever they go, and we wanted to accommodate them.”
They opened their grassy back patio soon after the brewery itself opened, and it’s an ideal place to bring a well-behaved dog — and a good business decision, too. “We have some customers who bring their dogs in every time they visit. I would say we have a few dogs almost every day that are joined by their owners,” Joe says.
Meghann Quinn is the co-owner and business manager of Moxee’s Bale Breaker Brewing Co. They allow leashed and obedient dogs in their large outdoor space but not inside. Their dog-friendly stance has become a draw for the popular brewery.
“We really try to cater to tourism here at Bale Breaker,” Meghann says, “and often, people stop in on their way to or from a weekend away — whether it’s camping, visiting friends and family on this side of the state, or just a day out of the city — and often, their dogs are in tow. The last thing we’d want is those pups to stay in a hot car or their owners to choose not to stop in and experience our space because we’re not pup-friendly.”
Once, someone even brought a cat on a leash. Meghann brings her 90-pound Chesapeake Bay Retriever Lily to work with her in her upstairs office nearly every day, and she’s not the only one. “Often, my younger brother (brewmaster Kevin Quinn) brings his 6-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog, Sigi, to work with him,” Meghann says.
Bale Breaker’s marketing manager, Danika Norman, occasionally brings her two dogs to work too. “Bear, a puppy she found in an orchard a few weeks ago, is the newest brewery mascot,” Meghann says.
Bron Yr Aur Brewing in Naches allows dogs outside, as does Cowiche Creek Brewing Co.
But what are the rules about dogs in bars? According to Washington state law, “No animals are allowed in food establishments; however, counties are allowed to provide a variance from food code with pre-approval.” I talked with Nathan Johnson of the Yakima County Health District, which has jurisdiction over the county and the city of Yakima. He says there are four variances in Yakima County, which is the reason dogs are allowed in certain areas of brew pubs.
Non-service animals are allowed only in areas outside of food and beverage preparation areas and must always be on a leash and under control. Areas where they are allowed must have a separate entrance from other food and beverage service areas, and the business must have proof that it has a proper cleaning schedule, to prevent potential food and beverage contamination.
And don’t even think about dressing Fido up in a red vest and calling him a service or emotional support animal to get him into a place that doesn’t allow dogs. You’ve probably heard the stories about emotional support animals that people were taking everywhere this year, including on airplanes. Dogs, geese, even alligators. It was getting so out of control, with pet owners getting fake certificates from online therapists, that many states, including Washington, cracked down. The Legislature passed a law in January that limits the definition of a service animal and imposes a fine for misrepresenting an animal as one.
The definition of a service animal now includes only dogs and miniature horses that are “individually trained to do work or perform tasks directly related to their owner’s disability.” This does not include emotional support animals.
If you do have a legitimate, registered service animal, they’re allowed in restaurants and bars. Managers are allowed to ask if you have a disability, and what task that animal performs, but they’re not allowed to ask you anything else.
Finally — don’t give your dog any beer! It can put them into a coma or cause life-threatening vomiting. If you’re a home brewer, keep the hops out of their reach too. The ASPCA says ingesting hops can cause a significant and possibly deadly increase in their body temperature.
But go ahead and bring them along to any establishment that allows it. Their main goal in life is to spend more time with you, their owner; and as Joe Daily says, “when some of our friends bring their dogs — it brings a lot of joy to everyone around.”