On a typical warm weekend at Cold Garden, a brewery in Calgary’s Inglewood neighborhood, about 100 dogs will join their human patrons as they enjoy a drink.
Co-founder of the brewery Dan Allard says being pet-friendly has been a big win for business.
Dogs are allowed on the patio and inside the taproom, since they don’t prepare food on site.
“It honestly wasn’t part of the business plan, and it seems silly to say that now given it’s such a big part of our brand,” he said in an interview with Alberta at Noon.
Pet-friendly public spaces, such as patios, restaurants and hotels, are more and more common in Calgary. Sites like BringFido and Go Pet Friendly list dozens of spots where pets are not only allowed, they’re welcome, with special treats and goodies on offer.
Last month, Cold Garden even held a puppy patio party, including craft “beer” for dogs — made of beef bone broth and veggies — from Halifax brewery Crafty Beasts Brewing Co.
Pets have been allowed on the patio at Donna Mac, in the city’s southwest end, since 2018.
“I know of course there are people who come to the restaurant because they know that their dog is going to be able to join them on the patio,” said Jeff Jamieson, the restaurant’s co-owner. “I have seen more and more patios kind of allowing it.”
At the Glenmore Inn and Convention Centre, 70 per cent of the hotel is open to pets, according to director of sales Rick Dickison — even though they’ve been pet-friendly for decades.
“We’ve always felt it’s important to offer a home away from home,” he said. “Pets are part of [the] family.”
It’s hard to quantify just how many businesses allow pets.
Kristine Monteiro, instructor in the hospitality management program at NAIT, points to the latest pet population figures released by the Canadian Animal Health Institute. In 2022, 60 per cent of Canadian households are reported to own at least one dog or cat. That equates to 7.9 million dogs and 8.5 million cats.
Many of those owners are looking for ways to incorporate their animals into their lives, he said, especially in the last few years.
“Prior to the pandemic, people started seeking comfort and companionship from pets, and it was amplified all the more during the pandemic when people weren’t allowed to visit their loved ones,” Monteiro said.
“This trend will just increase, and it’s just finding that it’s a really good balance between satisfying the needs of both pet owners and non-pet owners.”
Mona James, academic chair in the School of Hospitality and Tourism at SAIT, has noticed the trend as well.
“We are seeing more hotels and restaurants accepting pets. It seems to be something that is much more of an awareness factor for our industry,” she said in an interview with the Cost of Living.
Last May, the province also made it easier for restaurants to allow pets on patios in Alberta.
They removed the requirement for a health inspector’s approval, provided pets don’t enter food handling areas, are on a leash and proper cleaning procedures are in place at the establishment.
Seek a balance
Albertans shared their thoughts on whether pets are allowed in too many places on Alberta at Noon Thursday.
Some said they had allergies, fears of animals or just didn’t want to deal with other people’s pets.
Others pointed to places like Europe, where life with pets is more embedded into the culture. As long as the pets are well-behaved, they are supportive of having furry friends on a patio or in a hotel.
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Some Fairmont hotels have taken the pet-friendly concept even further. Several of their locations have canine ambassadors stationed at the entrance, ready to welcome visitors into their temporary home. Guests can play with the dogs, take them for walks or even leave them mail.
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge offers pet beds, special dog tags and pet menus, too, for a nightly fee. Laura-Ann Chong, public relations manager with the hotel, says they had nearly 3,000 pet stays — both cats and dogs — between Nov. 1, 2022, and May 16.
“We’re a family-oriented property and oftentimes that includes your pet as part of your family,” she said.
“Of course, the safety and the comfort is always a priority for all of our guests, whether you love dogs or maybe you’re allergic to them or other pets. So we do actually implement a deep cleaning service.”
For Monteiro, becoming pet-friendly is an opportunity for hotels.
Instead of shelling out funds on a pet-sitter, many owners are willing to pay to bring their animals with them.
“It is an added revenue stream,” she said. “Now if your brand doesn’t align with that, if most of your patrons don’t like pets or are not comfortable with pets, you don’t have to force it.”
Pet owners also have a responsibility, Monteiro said, in knowing their animal’s comfort level.
To mitigate concerns, Alberta Health Service guidelines suggest, among other things, restaurants place signs at their entrance so people know they’re entering a pet-friendly area.
It’s also recommended operators check to make sure their insurance covers any additional risks associated with allowing pets on their property.
Michael Palmer, a commercial insurance advisor at Westland Insurance in Calgary, said business owners should also check their agreements with landlords.
“If you’ve agreed in your lease agreement not to allow animals onto the premises or into the premises, then you can be in a situation where you’re jeopardizing your protection.”
Allard at Cold Garden says they’ve got another rule. One bark, you get a warning. Two barks, you’re out.
And in the seven years since they’ve been open, he says they haven’t had an incident.
“The humans have been far worse than the canines, I can tell you that.”