SHAWNEE, Kan. – Ever since Transport Brewery opened its doors, it has been a dog-friendly establishment. But just a few days ago the brewery announced that dogs are no longer allowed.
If you’ve been to Transport Brewery, chances are you’ll be greeted by a wagging tail. Dog roaming business has been the norm since it opened four years ago.
“People say how happy they are to come and see the happy dogs and pets they have,” said Transport Brewery Manager Christie Merandino-Jackson.
“I’ve been here a few times and every time I bring my dog,” said patron Jon Spicer.
Merandiono-Jackson said after the brewery’s last health inspection in July, they were told there was a health code violation because of the dog.
That’s because new state regulations from the Kansas Department of Agriculture ban animals indoors in food preparation areas.
It was the first time they heard about the change in state law.
“When we heard about this rule, it broke our hearts,” he said. “Me, when I have to make a statement to the public, I just think of all the dogs that come here and then have to isolate them and you know ruin the dog’s day.”
Merandiono-Jackson said what adds to the frustration, the brewery does not have a kitchen or serve food. Plus, where the beer is made is behind a locked door. But it does not matter, in law, it is considered a food preparation business because of brewing.
“So we want as a brewery and I’m sure the other breweries that are standing here with us, let’s have one set of rules for the brewery, especially, when you start grouping us with others, you won’t see that we’re not. Like them , we don’t have a kitchen, we don’t have all the areas that they are trying to prevent from health contamination,” he said. “Because if we had a kitchen, we would understand.”
The brewery applied for a variance but was denied and said unfortunately there is no appeals process.
Meanwhile, Merandiono-Jackson called on patrons to reach out to elected officials to make some changes. It was a movement he named “Charlie’s Cause” after a regular dog who had recently died.
“This was one of the last places he was before he died,” she said. “This is his favorite place.”
For now, dogs can come but must stay outside.
“We are asking anyone who is a true dog lover to help us in our mission to bring dogs back,” Merandino-Jackson said.
FOX4 reached out to the Department of Agriculture for comment and we received a response late Friday afternoon.
The department said it was partly aware of the concerns raised by Brewery Transport.
The statement said “All food establishments in Kansas fall under the Kansas Food Code, and that includes any operation that sells food or beverages for human consumption.”
The department confirmed the brewery’s request for an exemption but went on to say that Transport Brewery can still apply for an “outdoor space variance” and that it is working to update the Kansas Food Code to allow dogs in the outdoor space of all food establishments.
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