Make dog friendly pubs and cafes legal in Ireland...... AGAIN!
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With Pete 'The Vet' Wedderburn even weighing in on the matter via his Twitter account and live on air on his regular spot on Ireland AM, what do you think of the crackdown by the HSE (Health Service Executive) on dog friendly pubs, cafes, etc. around Dublin!?
Having personally contacted both the HSA (Health and Safety Authority) and the FSAI (Food Safety Authority of Ireland) separately, before all this came to a head recently, in relation to what exactly was the legislation regarding the matter of dog friendly establishments their confused and differing responses makes this recent crackdown all the more perplexing. Should all three bodies not be singing from the same hymn sheet!?
First things first, the HSA contact told me specifically:
"It is up to the owner of the premises to carry out a Risk Assessment and what their policy is in relation to having a dog on their premises."
Quite at odds with the recent crackdowns no!??
From the FSAI contact I was quoted the national food hygiene legislation which dates back to 1950 and refers to the entire premises, which specifically states that:
"dogs shall not be kept on the food premises save with the consent of the local chief medical officer and in accordance with any conditions he may impose and reasonable precautions shall be taken to exclude dogs which are not leashed from the food premises".
The FSAI contact also quoted me the EU Regulations which date back to 2004 and it specifically states that:
"Adequate procedures are also to be in place to prevent domestic animals from having access to places where food is prepared, handled or stored (or, where the competent authority so permits in special cases, to prevent such access from resulting in contamination)."
I don't know about you but I take this as meaning that it is up to the discretion of the "competent authority", (i.e.; the local Chief Medical Officer), if a "dog friendly" business is sufficiently adhering to health and safety guidelines, and that so long as she/he is happy that this is the case, and that dogs are leashed at all times, essentially a "dog friendly" food premises is legal. So far no where am I seeing any legislation that says a "dog friendly" establishment is outright illegal....
However the FSAI contact did direct me towards the fact that from the above quoted legislation the NSAI (National Standards Authority Ireland) developed Irish Standards for Hygiene in the Catering Sector, and Hygiene in Retailing and Wholesaling, dating back to 2007, which states the following:
"Rodents, insects, birds, domestic and other animals as far as practicable shall be prevented from having access to food premises and surrounding grounds with the exception of assistance dogs, e.g. guide dogs."
Hold on a second... So how and why has the leap been made from previous national legislation, and CURRENT EU legislation that a "dog friendly" food premises is permissible at the discretion of the "competent authorities", (or in other words "with the consent of the local chief medical officer"), to a "dog friendly" food premises essentially being made illegal!?? So much so that not even the "surrounding grounds" of a food premises are permitted to allow dogs, i.e.; tables outside of a cafe or pub!
This crackdown really does seem like a step too far, and while current national legislation does unfortunately seem to support it, the legislation is misguided, ill conceived, and the very basis upon which it has been made is shaky at best.
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