Dogs Can No Longer Walk into Famous Brooklyn Bar

dog walks up to a bar

Dogs have been enjoying drinks at NYC bars forever–until cat people spoil the fun

The Gate, one of the most famously dog-friendly bars in New York City, posted a sign Sunday saying that it’s been busted by the Health Department and will no longer allow dogs. Thousands of dogs and dog lovers have been enjoying the outdoor patio of Park Slope’s divey bar for decades with nobody catching rabies or even cooties, but as the sign points out, the outdated law is forcing them to stop the practice.

This sad outcome is only possible because New York City has an outdated health code that reflects medieval superstition rather than infectious disease science. Chicago passed a dog-friendly code in 2012 and has since seen no calamity. Restaurants don’t have to allow dogs, but they can if they want to. The whole state of California officially decided in August to allow dogs in outdoor seating. European bars and restaurants have welcomed dogs for centuries and they seem to be doing fine.

I happened upon now New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio back when he was a long-shot candidate at the Grand Army Plaza Farmer’s Market in June, 2013, and I asked him about New York allowing dogs at outdoor cafes like Chicago. He said New York is “more dense” so he didn’t know if it would be feasible. Really, Park Slope is more dense than the Loop? Than L.A. or San Francisco? Frankly, I like that the mayor supports getting rid of horse-drawn carriages in Central Park, but this law (along with maybe banning the sale of puppies and stronger spay-neuter rules) would do a lot more to improve the lives of New Yorkers and their animal friends.

The Gate points out that it has been “not endangering human health” since 1997. Often it seems like you have to have a dog to sit out on the patio. It’s the whole point of going there. For me and many others, the dog policy is the main attraction. People sit outside on the patio, bring their dog, and the staff, who have always been really nice, even let you bring in food from area restaurants since The Gate doesn’t serve food.

Dogs sadly no longer allowed at The Gate in Brooklyn's Park Slope.

Dogs sadly no longer allowed at The Gate in Brooklyn’s Park Slope.

New York dog lovers and their favorite bars have been doing a dance around the law for decades. The Scratcher in the East Village was the favorite bar of dog people for years–until one day someone who didn’t like dogs came in and didn’t like it. Then, instead of going to any other bar in the city that didn’t allow dogs, they called the health department. Other places make you tie the dog outside the fencing–which creates more problems for dogs, their people, and anybody walking by than its worth.

There are so many things New York City could do to make restaurants stop spreading illnesses–more hand sanitizer, fewer bathroom doorknobs, maybe some bleach solution on condiment containers and menus. But if I want to have a beer–or even a salad–with a dog at my feet, I should be able to do it in what is America’s most sophisticated city.





Did a Hunter Leave a Dead Bear in Central Park to Teach New Yorkers a Lesson?


Releasing predators in Central Park play a huge role in the fantasies and rhetoric of hunters. Could one have planted a dead black bear cub scare New Yorkers? Seems like somebody with access to dead wildlife was trying to make a point.

Keep reading Did a Hunter Leave a Dead Bear in Central Park to Teach New Yorkers a Lesson?

Parks Service Wants to Hunt Fire Island Deer Again

deer eating corn

Watch out Fire Island deer! The Parks Service wants you out of the way of their holly plants. And tourists, if you like seeing deer, too bad. The parks service wants to cut down on “negative human-deer interactions,” which it seems to define as anything that isn’t hunting.

Keep reading Parks Service Wants to Hunt Fire Island Deer Again

Brooklyn's Elusive White Squirrel Returns

Mr. White Squirrel pauses on a trunk with an acorn.

The mysterious white squirrel of Prospect Park is back. And, better yet, there might be more than one living on the western edge of the park, where people have reported white (leucistic, not albino) squirrels since at least 2006, delighting even jaded New Yorkers.

Keep reading Brooklyn’s Elusive White Squirrel Returns

Guide to Troubled Birds: showing birds as the jerks they sometimes are

Guide to Troubled Birds

Guide to Troubled Birds is the rare funny bird book that illustrates what any birder secretly knows: a lot of birds are jerks.

Keep reading Guide to Troubled Birds: showing birds as the jerks they sometimes are

Humongous Polyphemus Moth hatches--sorry, ecloses--from one of two mystery cocoons downed from oak trees during the harsh winter.

Moth upon hatching

Humongous Polyphemus Moth hatches–sorry, ecloses–from one of two mystery cocoons downed from oak trees during the harsh winter.

Keep reading Mystery cocoon revealed: giant Polyphemus Moth

Nest Quest in Prospect Park: wood ducks, herons, swans, cardinals, swallows and, of course, robins nest in the park

Green heron on nest by the boathouse. Babies are tucked under her wing.

Wood duck mother and duckling

Something is going on with nests in Prospect Park this season. They’re everywhere. You can’t walk 50 feet in the park bumping into some adorable tableau of chirping baby birds. Half the trees in the park seem to be brimming with exhibitionist robin families. The big unusual nests this year are green herons and wood ducks (which are living somewhere near dog beach–but where they nested, I don’t know.)








Green herons are nesting on the lullwater and near the less-fancy bridge by the boathouse.

Green heron on nest by the boathouse. Babies are tucked under her wing.

Green heron feeds her creepy-looking babies.








Swans in the park, as if in defiance of a potential plan to wipe them out, are multiplying. They have two nests, one helpfully placed on an island by the ice rink to make for easy viewing.

The father swan normally spends his days chasing off other waterfowl, but he came and sat on the eggs with his wife. Apparently he was alarmed by a mommy mallard and her ducklings nearby.

Baby Swans










I havent’ seen barn swallows build nests on the boathouse yet, just in the tunnels.

Barn swallow nest








These robins are so desperate for attention they build nests at eye level, sometimes

Keep reading Nest Quest in Prospect Park

Elusive Cardinal Nest

DAY ONE The first day I saw the cardinal nests. It took me 10 minutes to find the nest in a bush about the size of a small car.

Baby cardinals, so hard to find, have a weird red tint to their bodies. After years of looking I finally found a nest. The babies left before I thought they could make it. I’ll never know if they did.

Keep reading The Elusive Cardinal Nest

Dogs Don't Eat Warblers--in Prospect Park or Anywhere

Warbler Flavored Milkbones

Birders harass dog people in Prospect Park saying they disturb ground-nesting birds. But only six species nest on the ground here, none exclusively. Some aren’t even in the park in the summer.

Keep reading Dogs Don’t Eat Warblers–in Prospect Park or Anywhere

Two peacocks escape zoo, wander through Brooklyn's Prospect Park and delight kids

Peacock runs away from zoo workers in the Vale of Cashmere

Two peacocks walked and flew around Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and Botanic Garden after escaping from the zoo. The naughty birds had just been given free range of the zoo and took their freedom a little too far.

Keep reading Two peacocks escape zoo, wander through Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and Botanic Garden