post-title My Take on Mutts Canine Cantina

My Take on Mutts Canine Cantina

Avila Homes Pet Friendly

My Take on Mutts Canine Cantina

DSC_0433Update on July 10, 2013 – see note at the end of the article for updates about the parks.

When I visited Mutts Canine Cantina in Uptown for their grand opening on Wednesday, June 19, my first impression was that it seemed like a fun idea, but just had a few kinks to work out. I had no idea that a simple post on Facebook was going to create so much controversy. But more on that later.

For those who haven’t been, I’ll explain the concept: Mutts is an outdoor bar and private dog park in the same location. To use the dog park, you must purchase a one-day pass ($5) or a monthly pass ($10) per dog. Bar patrons can sit on the patio for free, along with their canine companions, who must be on a leash.

First Impressions

At the Grand Opening, they had attendees to describe the process to you and to provide monthly membership applications if you wanted to purchase that option. Chewy (my Pekingese) and I went into the small dog park to check it out.

There are two separate dog parks, one for small (under 30 pounds) and one for larger dogs. They each share a common entrance, with owners coming into the same small area to enter the parks. This is a tricky area; the reason for the separate parks is to keep dogs of the same size grouped together so the small dogs are not trampled by large dogs. In that small area, all the dogs and their humans that are entering and leaving the park are together.

Both parks are spacious and have lots of trees. And owners who wish to stay with their dogs can bring their drinks inside. There is not much seating, and I’m guessing that’s because you have the option to leave your dogs in the park with an attendant and go to the bar for a drink. (However, there were no attendants in the small dog park when I was in there. Only one person was inside the small come-and-go area. A beagle puppy howled for 30 minutes while the owner was in the bar.)

Be aware that there is no water source in the parks. Owners who would like fresh water for their dogs have no way to refill the water bowls, unless they bring in their own water bottles. In the Texas summer, a dog playing in a park can get overheated quickly, and a dog that goes into distress needs to have water poured over them quickly in order to cool his body temperature. With absent owners and attendants, the dogs that play themselves into heat exhaustion are at risk.

In the patio area, it’s pretty much the same as any other dog-friendly patio. There are bowls of water available, and dogs are allowed on-leash. Their food menu has burgers and hot dogs, but no vegetarian patties. However, one of the staff members stated that they had lots of requests for more vegetarian options, so he anticipated a menu update coming soon.

The Breed Ban Controversy

While sitting in the patio area with some friends and their dog, I learned that someone was not there because her dog was prohibited from entering the park. I took a photo of the policy and all the breeds that were restricted and posted it to the Dallas Dog Life Facebook page.

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.

Then my phone died. This happens to me frequently. I put it in my car to charge.

My friends and I stayed on the patio and discussed the policy with some other patrons, and I asked our waiter for more clarification. He said dogs of all breeds are allowed on the patio, on a leash, and there is no charge to bring your dog on the patio. After a while, I went back to retrieve my phone and update the Facebook page with the new information I had.

By the time I turned my phone back on, there were already 65 comments on the photo. And people also voiced their displeasure over the breed ban via the Mutts Canine Cantina Facebook page, which was deluged with comments from upset dog owners. The management at Mutts said it was an insurance requirement. However, the next day, their policy was changed to allow all breeds of dog into the dog park with the exception of one segment: pit bulls.

Attempts to contact Mutts Canine Cantina’s management for comment were unsuccessful.

The Bottom Line

As a pit bull parent, animal advocate, and business owner, I made the decision to only list businesses and events that are all-inclusive on Dallas Dog Life. Of course, I make exceptions for businesses and events that specialize in or target a particular segment (toy breed clothing retailer or a small dog Meetup, for example). My reason for posting the restrictions at Mutts was that so you, as a dog owner and a consumer, could make an informed decision before taking your dog (especially those on “the list”) to a business with breed restrictions.

But aside from the pit bull discrimination, there are other reasons I would not recommend this place. It’s dangerous to leave your dog alone with an untrained attendee in a dog park. (The requirements for being an attendee are only “must love dogs.”) The summer heat, dog fights, or injuries from strenuous play all require training to deal with. The lack of water sources for owners to access quickly is also a major concern. And a single small enclosed entry into two dog parks is a recipe for a dog fight, even among the “acceptable” breeds.

While it seems the management got advice on liability, I’m not sure if they consulted anyone in the dog community when planning this project. We would have seen all these issues a mile away.

In any case, it seems that Mutts is happy with their clientele, and vice versa. For pit bull owners who would like to take their well-behaved, spayed or neutered, and vaccinated dogs to a dog park/restaurant, Lee Harvey’s has a similar concept (Dog Day Sundays) and there is no charge to let your dog off leash.

It’s hard out there for a pit. 🙂

Editor’s note July 10, 2013: A reader posting an unfavorable comment towards this editorial states that there are now misting fans, water carts, water troughs, and other improvements that have been made to the park since I visited. For full disclosure, I have not returned to Mutts since my visit on their Grand Opening and do not plan to while the Breed Ban in the Dog Park is still in place; however, I wanted to point out for my readers that some safety issues may have been addressed. Thanks.

Comments (16)

  1. I think your review is biased and completely unprofessional. In fact you spend far too much time talking about you, your pet, and your website. That’s not a review. Second, who reviews a business opening night? Especially a restaurant. It’s not fair to the business and they clearly showed that they listened to their clients and made changes almost immediately. I don’t know of any business that has changed a policy like that so quickly.

    “Attempts to contact Mutts Canine Cantina’s management for comment were unsuccessful.” Yet all 3 owners where there and were happy to talk to anyone opening night. Your initial posts was careless and biased due to your own dog being banned. You failed to mention that just like all other dog-friendly patios, Mutts allows all dogs in the patio area on a leash.

    I don’t agree with banning breeds but I also don’t like biased “media”. It’s nice to know I can go to Mutts and you won’t be there.

    1. Thank you for your comment, sir. However, I must point out here, as I did on the various other threads you posted this comment on, that while you are entitled to your opinion about my writing, your statement that I did not point out that all dogs are allowed on the patio is false. Additionally, in regards to MY posts being misleading, if the restaurant had posted these breed restrictions on its website or Facebook page in advance of the opening, I would not have had to point them out to my readers who own dogs on the restricted list. Regarding my professionalism, as I stated in response to the other untrue statements you posted on DDL social media, I have told the truth and not personally attacked anyone. I cannot say the same for you, sir.

    1. Actually you can’t at all. 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 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.

      1. I’m very glad to hear that Mutts has made some improvements for the safety of the dogs. There were no misters, water carts, water troughs, or attendees in the parks when I visited. And my concern about people not watching their dogs was that the attendees that were supposed to be present in the parks were not. Someone should be watching; if the park advertises and charges a fee for dog-sitting, then someone should be doing it. Again, if that has been corrected, that’s great. These will definitely curb some dog owners’concerns about overheating and general safety.

        Again, to those who assume I hate this park or the owners, this is not true. I am not out to shut down any park or business that serves the dog community. I said many times that these owners are free to run their business however they choose, and of course I am free to have my opinion about the policies of their parks. As I said before, I had to report my findings to the readership so that they can make an informed decision before they go. As for you comment that I am trying to shut down an entrepreneurial effort, you clearly don’t know me or the goal of Dallas Dog Life, but like everyone else, you are entitled to your opinion.

        I will post an update based on a reader’s observation but will be sure to note that I have not observed those improvements in person. I assume the pit bull ban in the park is still in effect.

        1. Regarding advertising attendees, Mutts is very clear about the duties of the attendees and service that Participants receive for the severely low cost of $0.33/day (compared to $25/day for doggie daycare).

          On their site:
          “Full-time attendees are on duty to provide snacks and water and pick up after your pet”

          Pet owner responsibilities are clearly laid out in the same rule sheet provided since opening day:
          “Rule 1:  it is the Participants sole responsibility to ensure the safety and well being of your dog.
          Rule 5:  Participants understand that staff will be on hand inside the Dog Park and that such staff will continually clean the dog park
          Rule 6:  Participants may release their dogs from leash inside the Dog Park but must remain onsite at all times.  Abandoning dogs is prohibited and punishable by law.

          Regarding politics:
          The breed ban is only in the off leash area and is dictated by insurance companies basing their decisions on statistics to mitigate financial risk.  Financial risk is driven by the severity of injury from an attack, not by the frequency.  So while Chihuahuas probably are the most nippy, unfortunately for the Pittbull and other breeds on the ban list they still represent over 81% of all off-property dog bite fatalities to humans according to DogBite.org.  And a business can’t receive a permit to operate without insurance.

          In sympathy for the breed, it would be great to see a Pit-friendly park be put in near the Dallas Animal Services location on Westmoreland to draw more Pit lovers to the great selection of sweet Pits and other large breeds available at DAS.

          1. Again, as I said many times before, the information that I provided about the breed restrictions (that were purportedly mandated by an insurance company of Mutt’s choosing, but were changed the next day, which is obviously not standard practice for an insurance company) was and is still not on the company website. That is why I reported it when I received the information, after visiting the restaurant. I never said that Mutt’s didn’t provide those rules to guests once they were on site at their establishment, but a guest would have to visit the location to know that their dog was not allowed inside the park. That’s why I posted the information online. Regarding insurance companies requiring the ban: there are other insurance companies besides the unnamed company that Mutts uses who would have no problem issuing a policy to Mutts without breed restrictions; however, as a business, it is absolutely the Mutts’ right and prerogative to choose whichever service providers they please, and to enforce rules about attendees in whatever manner they see fit. They are obviously doing well, and I hope that in the future that they would reconsider their ban on pit bulls in their parks. As far as dogbite.org – the website, as you will see after even a cursory glance – exists for the purposes of pointing out every negative story about the pit bull breed, and you will never find anything positive about a pit bull on that site, ever. Again, they are free to run that site however they wish. However, it is unfortunate that some people take everything that site posts as gospel and uses it to further undermine the efforts of those who would simply like for people and businesses to restrict dogs based on behavior and not what they feel is the dog’s “propensity” to do.

        2. If the brand promise of Dallas Dog Life is the following:
          “DallasDogLife.com strives to be the leading source of online information for Dallas-area dog lovers” then as a “leading source” best practice should include a follow up review beyond opening night to be considered an objective, reliable and trust-worthy source of information.

  2. Thank you for the informative review. I’ve driven past Mutts several times since I live down the street. I wanted to know more (like the concept, hours, how much is membership, etc.) before taking my dog. First I visited the Mutts website, but found little information which is what brought me here. Thanks again for your unbiased review.

  3. Sounds like a bunch of people who will justify whatever just so they can drink and not leave their dog home alone. Dog might be better off home alone.

  4. Hi,

    I am also a pit parent just relocated to Dallas. I owe three dogs, a male spanish water dog, a female spanish water dog, and a pit bull mix, female. I moved from California and it breaks my heart to see how many bans there is on pit bulls, specially after having our baby, she is such lovable, social and soft dog, the most submissive of the three of the, extremely intelligent and simply full of love towards us and our other dogs and dogs in general. I am no desperate trying to find a 100% safe and professional dog boarding but it seems impossible, all ban pits. Any suggestions? It makes me so angry to see how pits keep on being discriminated here in Dallas…

    1. If your pit is well socialized in public settings around dogs and people, then take the dog. If it’s running around playing and being nice, I don’t think anyone will say anything to you.

  5. Tonight was my first time at Mutts. I took my Chiweenie to a pup party. I was very pleased with just about everything there. Super laid back, everyone was friendly and the staff was helpful with any questions. Fans and misters made me forget I was in the Texas heat, lots of shade, lots of seating, they had water bowls in the patio area and in the dog parks, they also have a rinse off area to clean off your pups or cool them down if needed. The only thing I didn’t like was the small shared entrance to get into the 2 separate dog park areas. My Chiweenie is about 6 pounds and I’m always scared he’ll get squished. But I didn’t mind waiting patiently until the big dogs were safely in their area and their gate was closed before I entered. But that is something I wish they would change. Also, I’m pretty sure I saw a pit bull there, so maybe they don’t have those restrictions anymore? Might wanna check into that if you’re a pit parent.

    1. Thanks for the update, Annie! I checked a few weeks ago and the restrictions prohibiting pit bulls in the dog parks are still in place. All breeds, however, are allowed on the patio provided they are on-leash.

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