Opening Day Fiasco: Dog Owners Complain About Breed Ban at Mutt’s Cantina

Photo of the breed restriction sign posted on Mutt's dog park (photo by DallasDogLife.com)
Photo of the breed restriction sign posted on Mutt’s dog park (photo by DallasDogLife.com)

Before Mutt’s Canine Cantina opened this Wednesday, dog owners were panting with excitement. Owners Josh Sepkowitz and Kyle Noonan of Bowl & Barrel are both dog lovers who wanted an open-air restaurant where the people could bring their best four-legged friends. Naturally, since Dallas doesn’t have a restaurant with a dog park attached it, people pounced on the opening like a puppy who likes to chew shoes. Then they saw the signs.

All leashed dogs were – and still are – allowed on the patio, but certain breeds were restricted from the dog park, which is regulated by attendants. On the sign posted outside of the dog park, the fourth rules states: “The Dog Park does not allow the following breeds to enter: Chow, Presa Canario, Doberman, Malamute, Husky, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Pit Bull or Shar-Pei.”

Incensed, dog owners who saw the sign inundated Mutt’s Canine Cantina’s Facebook page with comments. One woman wrote:

“Sad to find out my pittie isn’t welcome. We wouldn’t have participated in the park (I don’t trust other people’s dogs) but we would have been good paying customers. Thinly veiled breed specific restrictions are bad business.”

As word spread and customers got angrier, Noonan and Sepkowitz worked quickly to put out the fire. Noonan says the breed restrictions were implemented by the insurance company they use. “Because we are a very unique concept, the insurance company who we work with – in order to get a policy in place that makes sense – wanted to make sure that breed restrictions were similar to the apartment building in our neighborhood.” The insurance company decided on a policy that it thought was market standard. After seeing their Facebook page flooded with angry pet owners, the owners worked with the insurance company and decided to lift the breed restrictions.

Now, all dogs are allowed off-the-leash inside the park, except for pitbulls, who must remain leashed if they want to be inside the dog park. Even mixed pitbulls have to follow this rule. (But all dogs are welcome on the patio, leashed.)

But Noonan, who owns a 130-lb. Great Pyrenees, says, “We’re here for the consumer and we want to respond to the consumer. At the same time, we want to make sure that we protect the safety of the dogs and the people in the park.”

So, did he know he’d get that kind of reaction from dog lovers whose pets weren’t allowed in a not-so-all-dog-friendly park? “No, we didn’t. To be frank, those are very common dog restrictions in apartments. It wasn’t an arbitrary selection”

Noonan won’t say which insurance company they use for Mutt’s, but he does reiterate that it wasn’t his choice. “If I didn’t have to do it, I wouldn’t. Obviously, it would make my life easier and make it one less thing to manage. But at the end of the day, as a business owner you have to gear your business practices toward the general public. We want to carry insurance and we want to be insured. And to do that, you have to comply.”

The dog park is $9.95 for unlimited monthly membership or $4.95 for the day pass.

[Update 11:34 a.m. – Just saw on CultureMap that Teresa Gubbins says there is a lack of  water at Mutt’s.]

Comments

  • Knightengale

    I’m just not sold on this concept. I don’t understand why I should pay $5 to let my dog roam around when I could go to any other park and let him wander for free. (If it’s the food aspect—you can get Rusty Taco at Main Street Garden or food trucks at Klyde Warren Park, or you could go anywhere, get it to go, and go to your favorite park.) What am I missing?

    • Nancy Nichols

      insurance premiums

    • Trace

      The success of food trucks at Klyde Warren has me wondering why other parks can’t have food trucks. Riverchon would be nice, as would parts of White Rock Lake. A lot of beautiful parks in Europe have an option for food.

    • Darren

      This place employs attendants to clean up after your dog. It also sounds like your dog can roam free and you don’t have to watch it.

    • Cdoug

      Because at other parks it is a $200 fine for letting a dog off leash if they are not an approved fenced-in dog park. Klyde Warren has a small gravel-filled crappy dog park so this is the only close one for uptowners to walk to….

  • Glenn Campbell

    Pit Bull owners need to get over it. So long as Pit Bulls account for the vast majority of catastrophic animal attacks involving dogs, they will be breed non grata.

    And yes, we know your Pit is the sweetest dog and wouldn’t hurt a fly, but I can’t imagine that The owners of this dog park have the resources to do a temperament test on each of these potentially problematic dogs.

    That said, I don’t understand the prohibition on German Shepards, they’re chill…..

    • Nancy Nichols

      My chihuahua would bite a pit bull. IJS

    • mike

      you obviously dont know much about german shepards either, they can be very aggressive with lack of training yet some of the most obedient dogs with proper care.

  • Nancy Nichols

    I just tweeted Cesar Millan for help. Let’s get him here and get this figured out.

    • Bruce

      Maybe he will bring Junior, his pit bull

  • Knightengale

    I get why they’re doing it, but why would I go there and spend $5 to let my dog run around?

  • Bruce

    I agree with Krista on both comments. I like business owners who incorporate dogs as I have three Labradorian types and I like to hang out with them. The lack of water is a bit of a concern, but I carry my own most of the time anyway. Their new policy of having Pit Bulls on leashes and other dogs no leashed could cause aggression from either the pittie or the cute Labrador. I am fortunate that I have a big backyard and we have parties where my friend’s bring their dogs. Last one had 13 dogs and 11 people. I guess I will ask for $5 next time!

  • Nancy Nichols

    Junior would fix this in two minutes.

  • twinwillow

    I love dogs but, I’m so glad I only have a (very loving cat.

  • winecynic

    See, PitBulls are famous for killing children, eating other animals, and ripping people’s faces off. I’m glad that there’s no political correctness yet in the Doggie World; otherwise, people would sue for Doggie Discrimination. No scary, vicious creatures allowed.

    • Amy Cole-Iorio

      You are an idiot…

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  • Peter Kurilecz

    and that would be the end of the chihuahua IJS

  • Peter Kurilecz
    • mike

      none of those links work and if you’re using fox news and yahoo for news sources you’re poorly misinformed boy

  • Peter Kurilecz

    you dont’ have to go there, but if you do you pay $5.

  • Nancy Nichols

    Here’s a solution: divide the park into small dog area, large dog area, and pit bull area. Then we’ll have an answer.

    • Marcus Cady

      You will then have a lot of dead Put Bulls and a victor. It would also attract a lot of gambling revenue. As others have said, the former rules mirrored many lease agreements.

  • Chad
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  • Edgar

    Every Weekend we struggle to find a good place to take our boy, Kingston Pappy Van Winkle…Bolsa has been great! – Truth be told, we’re not that interested in Puppy Segregation Class Action Lawsuits…We just really LOVE that Josh and Kyle openned this Super Cool Dog Park in a really convenient spot that had been previously overlooked – Thank You Guys!!!

    • Waki Kat

      Ditto!!!

  • Scagnetti

    My Shih Tzu was educated abroad so he doesn’t play well with domestic breeds.

  • Edgar

    So, we just spent the evening at Mutts with our puppy(not a Pit Bull but equally ferocious) and…OMG this is the best place ever! Not only is it genius and everybody there is loving it, but the staff is incredibly helpful and cutest plastic wine cups ever! Owners creativity can be seen through cute solutions like the Menu slots in the picnic tables. The low monthly membership fees pay for grounds keepers and other excellent staff so you can literally just watch your dog and sip on wine – they have a salad that is seriously the Best Grapefruit Fennel Spinach salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette that I have Ever eaten in a dog park!!! I Love this place!!!

    • Glenn Campbell

      Are you an owner or their accountant?

    • Waki Kat

      Couldn’t agree more! This place deserves more balanced reviews. Dissappointing and yet not, to see such an immature article published in D Magazine.

  • CorkyVLxembourg

    All this avoids the obvious question: Why is eating dog so frowned upon in the US? This blog is about eating, afterall. Eating a poodle, for example, is a lot different (ethically) than eating a PitBull (which would gladly reciprocate by eating a person, negating the ethical quandary). Right?

    • Amy Cole-Iorio

      Again…idiot

    • lUVSALLDOGS

      No wonder you don’t show your face you idiot Just another ignorant know it all perpetuating the segregation of and cruelty to pitbulls. I suppose you are also okay with dogfighting

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  • pitbullsrule

    These ignorant people are the very reason I don’t take my pit bulls to dog parks anyway. Should a fight break out, even if it’s not the pit bulls faultfault, everyone will be screaming and BSL talk comes out. As a responsible pit bull owner, just refrain from going to dog parks all together. It will be better in the long run for all pit bulls and their owners who are responsible. Always neuter and spay your pit bull, leash them in public, and engage them in training classes. And leashing pit bulls and taking them into a park where other dogs are running around will cause a lot more problems.

  • Tiffany Miller

    Your ignorant and part of the problem. You should
    stay away from everyone and anyone. You probably
    should be neutered as well. Youre vicious and a threat
    to society. Oh, I suppose your thinking that I dont
    know you, so how can I judge you? You dont know
    all pit bulls, so how can you judge them?

  • CorkyVLxembourg

    No, YOU are!

  • CorkyVLxembourg

    No, YOU are!

  • CorkyVLxembourg

    Not dog fighting, just dog eating!

  • Chris Carrizales

    I just say BAN MUTTS CANINE CANTINA.They are full of shit.They are not worthy of my Siberian Huskies.You know they said nothing of the Kangal.A friend of mine has one and we are going to take him.Let’s see what happens.I take it they nor thier ins have never heard of the Kangal.Hard to get one.And just so you idiot people at Mutts know, the Kangal will kick the shit out of a Pitt Bull everytime.The Pitt has no chance no matter how hard they try.The Kangal abuses the Pitt like a toy.Seems to just get annoyed then before you know it…it’s over.The Kangal is a beast but you would’nt think that by looking at him.So we will see.Hope no other dog thier does’nt piss him off.And yes has aall shots and records.

  • Chris Carrizales

    So why did you remove my comment people?

    • Carol Shih

      Our comments system automatically filters out certain words like s****. Thanks.

  • Brad

    You don’t know spelling. IJS

  • Cissy Aberg

    I’ve never had a dog that enjoyed going to a dog park. They are excited for about 30 seconds and then they look back at me as if to say, “what are we doing here? ” As for the ban on some breeds, I agree that breeds known to be aggressive can also be wonderful family pets. But the truth is that my Bernese-mix cannot possibly rip someones throat out, even if she were to get majorly pissed. Whereas, some dogs can.

  • Kathleen Dowse

    This is ridiculous. I was bit by a dog last week… Guess what it wasn’t a pit bull. A dog attacked another dog at the dog park a couple months ago, drawing blood from the dogs ear and causing the owner to pay $200 in medical bills and a night of trying to stop the bleeding… again not a pit bull. What’s unique about these 2 situations… My Pitbull was standing there. When I was bit by the other dog (the non pit)… the dog had tried to piss of my dog and I got in the way of the fight… my dog did nothing violent back. When the other dog bit the dog’s ear drawing blood… my pit bull was right in the middle – curious what was going on and again… showed no violence to anyone.

    Look people – Unless you have actually owned a pit bull…. shut up.
    Sorry – but you are showing your ignorance and believing the media and over exaggerated stories.

    For example… “Feeding frenzy on Houston’s beaches… 30 people attacked and 2 deaths within the last 100 years”…. Yes that really was on the news… now think about that statement… 32 people attacked in 100 years does not merit a feeding frenzy.

    Don’t get me wrong… I’m not denying that they have strong jaws and they are protective by nature. Sure, these are pure facts. What I’m saying is if you want to start restricting dogs that will hurt other dogs then you probably shouldn’t open a dog park – The logic there is stupid.

    What I’m saying is that any dog can cause severe harm. That’s pure fact. Dog owners must be responsible and train their dogs properly. Being around dogs is a choice… don’t go if you don’t know how to gauge a dog’s temperament.

    What I’ll tell you – Is you sound like a fool saying “blah blah blah no pit bulls” I mean seriously… It’s over… dog fighting is over now… Check your facts and join the present day.

    And if you’ve never owned one or been around one that is raised in a good home (not to defend a home of drug dealers)…. then shut up… you have no clue what you’re talking about and you sound dumb.

    Anyone interested in seeing my bruised leg from a dog bite from a non-pitbull (nor any of the breeds listed above) I’m happy to share this with you. It’s a beautiful huge bruise with 2 marks that looks like a vampire bite.

    Hahahahha oh and the guy that said “they’re famous for killing, ripping off heads…. ” oh my goodness… you are so uneducated about the matter and brainwashed by the news. The news posts things for ratings… take it with a grain of salt. Dogs are animals – all dogs are capable of killing people (maybe minus the chihuahua). Dog fighting and using them to guard drug home are the lurking variables in your claim.

  • Waki Kat

    The title of your article is sad, inaccurate and inflamatory, and a real shame for this business just getting off the ground that your articles title appears before their own site in Google search results. If I were this business I’d consider suing for libel for such a false title and biased smear campaign. For the loud critics who complain that the attended dog parks aren’t free like White Rock or Lee Harvey’s, first off you can still go to those places, no one is taking that away. Secondly this new area in Uptown used to be nothing but an empty lot, so why are you griping about a visionary that turned it into a dog friendly beer garden? This place was great. There are no misting fans and very few shade trees at white rock. There are no bus boys serving water to your dogs bowls free of charge or picking up after your dog at white rock. And Lee Harveys has no separation for big and small dogs. I’d recommend visiting Mutts and letting your dogs be the judge vs a single critic who doesn’t fully comprehend the value. For the many dogs living in the apartments surrounding Mutts who don’t have the advantage of living next to the lake it’s a great way to socialize and exercise your dog at the end of a work day. Go to White Rock, Lee Harvey’s or wherever you’d prefer, but avoid shutting down additional efforts like Mutts who also contribute to elevating Dallas with more dog friendly options for those who live in the inner city and downtown. I would think dog lovers would be much more supportive of this type of movement. An additional correction to the critic’s post, there was water to be had everywhere – misting fans, servers refilling water bowls including a water bowl cart to fill up and get more, and water troughs in the big dog area that all breeds of dog were jumping in and out of as they played. Plus all seating faced the dog areas. If you choose not to watch your pet while eating that’s a reflection on the pet owner, not the dog park. Who watches the dogs at Lee Harvey’s and what is that staff’s hiring requirements? This critic’s review is not entirely accurate, and it undermines those making an entrepreneurial effort to improve Dallas as a dog friendly city and shows real ignorance regarding what is really involved to be an insured business with approved permits. Criticize city ordinances, not small businesses forced to work within those constraints. And if you think you can do this concept better, then do it! Dallas could use more concepts like these, so show us what you’ve got.

  • Waki Kat

    These restrictions are imposed by insurance companies who base their rules on statistics around the severity of damage by breed, not the number of attacks. Unfortunately for Pittbulls it is the anatomy of their jaw that causes them to still represent 60% of all fatalities to humans (DogBite.org collects all U.S. statistics). The severity level of the attack is what poses the greatest level of financial risk to the insurance companies. Without insurance a small business can’t open. All of these decisions are based on statistics driven by financial reasons, not emotional or political reasons, where the insurance companies are concerned.

  • Suzanne O’Brien

    Not sure what their insurance is actually for as my husband was bit by another owners dog at the park in september. Ryan at Mutts said they’d file with rheir insurance but this mornjng, after numerous attempts to gain follow up, I was told it was not their responsibility.

    • Avid Reader

      Then Ryan is either an idiot or lying to you. Guessing they never filed a claim in the first place. Ask for the claim # and adjustors contact information. Probably won’t go anywhere since it seems they are jerking you around already so you might have to send a demand letter before they actually turn it in to the insurance co.

  • CoCo_Ch3Ch3

    BS is all I have to say you racists judgmental pretentious ppl… pretty sure you can get covered by state Farm insurance which in fact has a specific policy to insure pitbulls and property with pitbulls on location.. so instead of making useless excuses just tell the truth and the truth is your racist and ignorant about the breed…

  • CoCo_Ch3Ch3

    RACIST!!!

  • CoCo_Ch3Ch3

    YAY!!! SO GLAD THE ARE OTHER PEOPLE WHO COMMENTED WHO ARE NOT RACIST OR NON EDUCATED ABOUT THE PITTIE BREED

  • CoCo_Ch3Ch3

    RACIST IGNORANCE!!! WHY DON’T YOU GO SEGREGATE YOURSELF THE WE WON’T HAVE PPL LIKE U WHO ARE IGNORANT

  • CoCo_Ch3Ch3

    Thank you tiffany miller took the words outta my mouth… and to add you ain’t nothing but ignorant and racist let’s get rid of ppl like this… oh and fuck you