The Florida Department of Health in Duval County is reminding bar owners that pets are not allowed inside facilities that serve food or beverages.
Florida administrative code clearly states that pets are not allowed in businesses that serve food. DOH-Duval says that rule applies to bars and taprooms as well, even if they don’t prepare or serve food.
It sent bars this letter on Monday, Aug. 13 (emphasis added):
It has come to the attention of the Florida Department of Health-Duval, some facilities are allowing animals inside the bar area. Per Florida Administrative Code, 64E-11.008 (8) Live birds and animals – "No live birds or animals except for crustacea, shellfish and fish in aquariums shall be allowed in a food service establishment, in vehicles used for transporting food or in any other area or facility used to conduct food service operations; except as provided under Section 413.08 F.S.
Although Bars under the Department of Health do not have traditional food service, 64E-11 defines food as any raw, cooked, or processed edible substance, ice, beverage or ingredient used or intended for use in whole, or in part, for human consumption.
Animals may be present outside the bar, on a patio or similar area.”
The only exceptions to the no-animals rule, according to DOH-Duval Environmental Health Director Scott Turner, are service animals.
“We refer to service animals as only dogs or miniature ponies,” said Turner. “Those are the only two animals that are considered service animals in the statute.”
Turner says there have been local cases where an establishment opened and specifically wanted to have animals allowed inside the bar area.
“We currently are denying that. We can’t issue a permit for that. They would have to request a variance through the state, through Tallahassee, in order to get that approved,” he said, adding, “I’m not aware of any facility currently in Duval County that has that allowance.”
Florida law does allow pets to be in outdoor areas associated with bars and restaurants, like patios and decks. But Turner says if inspectors find out that animals are being allowed inside, business owners could be in violation.