One thing that sparks our envy when we travel abroad: the sight of dog owners with furkids in tow. “In France and Switzerland, pets are allowed into malls and restaurants—no questions asked,” observes Shannon Loh, paw-rent of a Golden Retriever. “In Singapore, there’re only a handful of pet-friendly cafes and not many restaurants allow dogs, even in the outdoor area.” It’s a sentiment that’s echoed by many dog owners. 

In order for an F&B establishment to legitimately accommodate furkids (both indoors and/or outdoors), the National Environment Agency (NEA) requires eateries to apply for a Food Shop (Pets Allowed) Licence, which costs $195 a year. “The application process was not easy as we had to make sure all our food handlers underwent a basic hygiene course. Additionally, our kitchen design needed to adhere to NEA regulations,” shares a representative from the Les Amis group, which owns pet-friendly Casa Verde at Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The aforementioned regulations include the separation of human and pet food preparation/storage areas, as well as utensils and crockery. These cafes are also not allowed to house resident pets. At the end of every workday, the entire cafe has to be wiped down and disinfected.

One regulation that’s met with much contention and often flouted by paw-rents is the leashing of dogs within these cafes. “Many pet owners are unaware that the NEA requires dogs to be leashed at all times, even in licensed pet-friendly cafes, so we’ve had difficulty complying with this rule without offending customers,” says Dave Lim, director of Sun Ray Cafe. This rule, admittedly, is a killjoy for paw-rents who patronise pet-friendly cafes with the aim of socialising their pups.

This is an excerpt of our Paw Prints opener. For the full story, flip to pg 22 of our June/July 2018 issue!