Rant: Balmain pooches face pub prohibition

Canine companions are no longer welcome in Balmain pubs

After trudging futilely around for hours in the Inner West searching for a new home, we were in need of a little respite. Our stoic Jack Russell was also tired of being tethered to the front fence of every “renovator’s delight” we inspected. We chanced upon the William Wallace Hotel, Balmain and were pleasantly surprised to find that ourselves and our little dog were welcomed in for a refreshing ale. She was quite content to sit under our bar stool and scoff the occasional dropped chip.

I have lived in Sydney all my life and I had never come across a dog-friendly pub before!

But now I have heard that the Inner West Council is clamping down and threatening big fines for pub owners who allow mutts in. I am mad that council can make this decision since dogs in pubs are an important part of Balmain’s village feel and history. This is the nanny state (or dare I say the ‘doggy daycare state’) dictating to us every aspect of our lives.

Pooches are called “companion animals” because they keep you company and are your friend for life. But as any dog-owner knows, total strangers on the street will chat or share a knowing smile with you as you are dragged along behind your dog on her daily walk. Recently, I was trying to pull my dog away from a particularly fragrant pole when a passerby commented, “She’s just reading the morning newspaper, love”.

One evening at the Riverview Hotel we chatted with a couple while their mutt sat contentedly at their feet. They had left their toddlers with a babysitter while they (and the dog) escaped for a kid-free night.

Dogs in pubs help locals connect with each other and this creates a close knit community.

The 17 pubs in Balmain are a significant part of the area and dogs in pubs go back a long way. The Welcome Hotel claims to have been pooch friendly since 1878! The story goes that the Welcome got its name after a lost hound stumbled across a friendly publican, who welcomed the dog into the pub and gave it a new home and the establishment a new name. The London Hotel publican has allowed dogs inside his pub since he took it over in 1989.

How can the Inner West Council exclude dogs from Balmain pubs after they have been welcome for so long?

Provided dogs are well behaved and supervised by their owners, I do not see that there is any health risk having dogs inside around patrons. Once our dog wandered behind the bar and we hurried in to retrieve her. The barmaid quipped: “I don’t mind the dogs behind the bar so much, it’s the drunks I worry about.” And dogs are all teetotallers!

Helen Taranto

You can sign a petition to support keeping pups in Balmain and Rozelle pubs: www.change.org/p/inner-west-council-balmain-rozelle-dog-friendly-pubs