SHAWNEE, Kan. — Ever since Transport Brewery opened up its doors, it has been a dog friendly establishment. But just a couple of days ago the brewery announced that dogs are no longer allowed.
If you’ve been to Transport Brewery, chances are you’ve been greeted with a wagging tail. Dogs roaming the business has been a norm since it opened four years ago.
“People were talking about how happy they were to come and see a happy dog and pet them,” Transport Brewery Manager Christie Merandino-Jackson said.
“I have been here quite a few times and every single time I bring my dog,” patron Jon Spicer said.
Merandiono-Jackson said after the brewery’s last health inspection in July, they were told that there was a health code violation because of the dogs.
That’s because a new state regulation from the Kansas Department of Agriculture prohibits animals indoors in food preparation areas.
It was the first time they’d heard of the changes in the state law.
“When we heard about this ordinance, it ripped our heart out,” she said. “I, when I had to make the statement to the public, I just thought about all the dogs that have come here and then just having to turn them away and you know ruin a dog’s day.”
Merandiono-Jackson said what adds to the frustration, the brewery doesn’t have a kitchen or serve food. Plus, where the beer is made is behind a locked door. But that doesn’t matter, under the law, it is considered a food prep business because of brewing.
“So we want as a brewery and I’m sure other breweries stand here with us is, let’s just have one set of rules for breweries, specifically, when you start grouping us with others, you don’t see that we’re not like them, we don’t have a kitchen, we don’t have all of these areas that they’re trying to prevent from health contamination,” she said. “Because if we did have a kitchen, we would understand.”
The brewery applied for a variance but was denied and said unfortunately there’s no appeals process.
In the meantime, Merandiono-Jackson is calling upon patrons to reach out to their elected officials to make some changes. It’s a movement she’s dubbed “Charlie’s Cause” named after a regular’s dog who recently passed away.
“This was one of the last places he was before he died,” she said. “This was his favorite place.”
For now, dogs can come but have to remain outside.
“We are asking anybody that really is a dog lover to help us in our mission to bring the dogs back,” Merandino-Jackson said.
FOX4 reached out to the Department of Agriculture for comment and we got a response late Friday afternoon.
The department said in part it’s aware of the concerns brought up by Transport Brewery.
The statement said “All food establishments in Kansas fall under the Kansas Food Code, and that includes any operation that sells food or drink for human consumption.”
The department confirmed the brewery’s denied request for an exemption but goes on to say Transport Brewery can still apply for an “outdoor space variance” and it’s working to update Kansas Food Code to allow dogs at outdoor spaces in any food establishment.
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