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Tampa and Orlando dog bars file a challenge over the state's decision to block pets

Exterior of Pups Pub Tampa
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Pups Pub Tampa, 2202 W. Kennedy Blvd., joined Pups Pub Orlando in filing a case last week at the state Division of Administrative Hearings.

The establishments filed a challenge last week after a Florida Department of Health ruling prevented dogs in "dog friendly bars."

Bars in Tampa and Orlando are challenging the Florida Department of Health over decisions to block dogs from being in the establishments.

Pups Pub Tampa and Pups Pub Orlando filed a case last week at the state Division of Administrative Hearings after health officials issued orders to prevent dogs in what the case describes as “dog friendly bars.”

In part, attorneys for the bars wrote that the department reversed course after earlier allowing dogs.

Also, they said the bars do not serve food and are designed to keep separation between dogs and where drinks are prepared.

“Despite its prior enunciation of its interpretation of its rules that dogs were authorized inside bar establishments as long as there was some minimum separation between the dogs and the area were the beverages were prepared, the department changed its interpretation and began prohibiting dogs inside the bar establishment as a whole,” the challenge said.

The challenge also said the department’s new interpretation is invalid as it “constitutes an agency statement of general applicability which has not been adopted as a rule and is applicable to dog friendly bars statewide.”

In documents attached to the case, the Department of Health pointed to a state rule that bars dogs inside food-service establishments, which are defined as including bars.

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