Florida dog bars ruling put on hold

FILE IMAGE - Therapy dog session in Training and Rehabilitation Center for Children with Developmental Disabilities in Fastiv, Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine on March 15, 2018. (Photo by Oleksandr Rupeta/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A state appeals court this week put on hold an administrative law judge’s ruling that backed Tampa and Orlando bars in a dispute about whether dogs should be allowed in the establishments. 

A panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal, in a 2-1 order Monday, granted a request to stay the June 15 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Lynne Quimby-Pennock. 

The order did not explain the court’s reasoning, but the majority was made up of Judges Rachel Nordby and Adam Tanenbaum, while Judge Susan Kelsey dissented. The Department of Health took the case to the Tallahassee-based appeals court after Quimby-Pennock ruled that the department had not properly revised a rule to prevent Pups Pub Tampa and Pups Pub Orlando from allowing customers to bring pets to dog-friendly bars. 

The case centered on sanitation certificates that county health departments, which are overseen by the state Department of Health, issue to establishments. 

Pups Pub Tampa, for example, was issued a sanitation certificate in December 2020, with an agreement that it would not serve food. Also, the pub took steps such as installing a gate to keep dogs out of the drink-service area. But in June 2022, the Tampa bar was cited for a violation related to having dogs in the business. 

The Orlando bar, meanwhile, received a sanitation certificate and opened in July 2022 but was cited for a violation less than a month later, according to Quimby-Pennock’s ruling. Quimby-Pennock said the Department of Health did not properly go through a process to adopt a rule that would keep dogs out of the bars.