They say that every dog has its day, and now, thanks to a new bill introduced in the state legislature, dogs may soon enjoy a new freedom – the right to stroll unencumbered into taprooms across North Carolina.

On Friday, March 8, state Rep. Jon Hardister introduced the legislation that would offer clarity to county health departments – as well as to taprooms –as to how those establishments should be classified when it comes to health inspections.

The issue of dogs and other pets in taprooms became a major topic in Guilford County earlier this year when a health inspector with the Guilford County Health Department issued a warning to the popular Joymongers Brewing Company at 576 N. Eugene St. in Greensboro.  That warning stated that the business couldn’t allow dogs inside. Even though Joymongers has no kitchen or food preparation areas, the establishment was being treated as a restaurant because taprooms currently have no official designation under state law.

That meant dogs were banned from indoors – though they could hang out on the patio.

Similar situations were also arising for man’s best friend at taprooms in other parts of the state.

The banning of dogs from Joymongers was a lively topic on social media and the public uproar led to a meeting in the Old Guilford County Court House in downtown Greensboro – with health officials, local elected leaders, county staff, taproom owners and other interested parties attending. That meeting led to further discussions at the state level.

In drafting the legislation, Hardister worked with the Guilford County Health Department, the NC Department of Health and Human Services, the Craft Brewers Guild and state Rep. Chuck McGrady, the chairman of the NC House Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Committee.

Hardister is now teaming up with McGrady to get this new bill turned into law.

According to Hardister, after working with all the interested parties, it became obvious that taprooms should be clearly defined under the law.

“If a taproom serves drinks but does not prepare food, then they should not be subjected to the same standards as a restaurant,” Hardister argued in a prepared statement Friday.  “This would put taprooms in the same category of regulation as wineries, which would create consistency and clarity in the law.”

Under the proposed legislation, taprooms in North Carolina will be able to decide for themselves whether pets should be allowed inside.  The bill, if successful, will resolve the Joymongers issue as well as similar issues at other North Carolina taprooms that were warned not to let customers bring dogs or other pets inside.

Hardister said of the new bill that it’s a matter of “promoting the free market and allowing business owners to do what is best for their customers.”