Deidre McDonnell is in the middle of moving from Drogheda to Dublin, so when she heard about a café where she and her boyfriend, Robbie Slattery, could bring their Boxer Molly whilst they enjoyed some time out in their new city, she was excited.
‘I just like it!’ she said. ‘I think it just adds to the atmosphere. So I’m very happy.’
McDonnell, 35, says having a café where she can go with her dog is an opportunity for her to meet people.
‘I don’t really know anybody, so to come here with people who are into the same things as I am like loving dogs, I’m very happy,’ she said.
‘I think it’s an interesting concept,’ Slattery, 33, said.
‘It’s community centric. Just look at the different generations uniting all ready,’ he said. ‘It’s lovely to see.’
Pupp café is packed with people.
Not everyone has a dog, but most do and are loving it.
‘I think it’s absolutely fantastic!’ exclaims Emma Farrell of Dublin who proudly is enjoying her cup of tea while her Shih Tzu Rudy Valentino lays beside her chair.
‘I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,’ Farrell, 50, said.
Farrell says she thinks it is ideal for a coffee shop to allow dogs.
‘I look for friendly places like cafes, restaurants, hotels, or other accommodations when I travel,’ said Farrell.
‘It’s a load of bull sh**e,’ said Farrell about the recent news.
The issue was brought to the attention of the HSE and FSAI after some local online reviews of ‘pet-friendly’ establishments in Dublin.
An HSE spokesperson has previously suggested that an environmental health officer in the Dublin 8 area may have enforced the code.
‘The HSE cannot comment on its food safety activities in respect of individual food businesses,’ said Muiriosa Ryan, HSE press officer.
Ryan pointed out that the legal position and guidance to pets in food establishments can be found on the FSAI’s website under the FAQ section.
‘Under national and EU food hygiene legislation pet dogs and cats are generally not permitted in any food premises,’ Emma Reinhardt, FSAI communications coordinator said in an E-mail.
However, both Reinhardt and Ryan are quick to point out there is an exception for guide dogs, assistance or companion dogs in the law.
The legislation Reinhardt is referencing dates back to 1950 – 1989 Food Hygiene Regulations, which states food business owners are ‘to ensure that dogs are not allowed into food premises with the exception of assistance dogs, and cats are only allowed where it can be shown that proper precautions are in place.’
In the Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and the UK, these fellow European countries allow cafés and restaurants to decide whether to allow dogs into their establishments.
So why would Ireland be any different?
When pressed further for comment regarding this Reinhardt had not returned E-mails before going to press.
‘We’re a café that caters to humans. We are really catering towards the whole community,’ Froggatt is quick to say.
‘People in Ireland want to be more like mainland Europe,’ Froggatt says about allowing dogs in cafés.
As a dog owner, Froggatt said he was a little disappointed when he heard the news prior to opening the café’s doors.
‘I had researched it [allowing dogs] prior to opening, and the agency [HSE] has been very helpful,’ he said.
‘We feel the message from the HSE has put out is more from a cultural perspective rather than the European legislation,’ he says while he was able to sit down for a rare moment.
‘People are coming from as far as Ballinteer and Rathfarnham in Co. Dublin,’ said Wallace as she is overheard talking with customers.
‘Much like any café in Europe it is a nonissue,’ Froggatt said about allowing dogs to come in with their owners.
He said the café has received a lot of attention since opening and most days, especially the weekends, the café is packed with people and their four-legged friends.
‘It’s fantastic the level of support we’ve received,’ he said.
‘We’re not the first to let dogs in, just the first tailored to it.’
Froggatt says both agencies are in a difficult spot as they never anticipated all the attention from the public.
‘The HSE does not have any concerted action underway locally or nationally in relation to dogs in food premises,’ said Ryan.
Froggatt understands why people might be hesitant about going to a café that allows dogs inside.
‘We are not trying to have a dog playground that serves food,’ Froggatt said.
Froggatt said he is not aware of a business being prosecuted for having an animal on the premises.
‘I hope the novelty of this place loses its novelty,’ Froggatt said. ‘It should be up to [business] owners to be dog friendly.’
Froggatt says there is no food or safety risk.
‘If the dog is quiet and sitting under the table, I see no risk,” said Froggatt. ‘It is similar to a child or other people sitting at the table.’
The wording in the legislation states, ‘adequate procedures are also to be in place to prevent domestic animals from having access to places where food is prepared, handled or stored.’
‘The food prep is totally separate,’ said Farrell.
According to Farrell, Pupp has the best hygiene and she says when it comes to eating here she has no food safety or health concerns at all.
‘Unless something is going to happen getting the food from the kitchen to the table; no issue,’ she said.
‘Everything is out of the reach of the dogs,’ Farrell points out.
‘From a dog owner’s perspective, I feel fine about my food and safety,’ said Farrell.
McDonnell and Slattery, have no concern either for their food safety or health.
‘No. Not at all. No,’ says McDonnell.
Slattery says they have sat outside before with their dog at cafés or restaurants where you could have food and drink.
‘We’d rather get cold just to have her [Molly] with us,’ adds McDonnell.
‘There’s never been a place where people could go with their pets previously, where you can sit inside,’ Slattery said.
‘All these dogs are house trained. They’re not pooing on the floor,’ Farrell said.
Farrell laughs as she shares some food with Rudy saying, ‘I’m the one putting food on the floor.’
‘I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,’ said Farrell who just loves Rudy’s company.
Farrell says, ‘He’s family!’
McDonnell hopes things in Ireland will change now that this issue has been brought to light by the media attention.
‘To me Molly would be like a child, so why cannot I bring her somewhere?’ McDonnell said.
McDonnell says just because people think it is strange or weird is not a good enough reason not to allow dogs.
‘I want to bring her [Molly] where I want to go, and hopefully it will change,’ she said.
‘Dogs are not like they were 20 years ago,’ she says. ‘They’re more part of your family.’