St. Pete PAWS Celebrates Local Businesses That Accept Dogs

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Thursday, August 26 is National Dog Day — as if America’s K9s, floofs and good woods don’t get enough love all year round.

This is certainly the case in St. Petersburg, where every day street walkers and errand runners can find dogs cooling off inside beer halls, lounging under outdoor bistro tables or even browse the aisles of a local retail store.

What do you want to know

  • National Dog Day is Thursday, August 26
  • The St. Pete PAWS Program of St. Petersburg was founded in 2018
  • St. Pete PAWS has become a collective public-private partnership
  • Local businesses can become certified Mayor’s Pet-Friendly Businesses

Businesses in the ‘Burg have adopted pleasantly permissive attitudes towards residents’ four-legged family members. In fact, some have gone so far as to become certified through the Mayor’s Pet-Friendly Business program, which is just one part of the St. Pete PAWS initiative aimed at not only educating the public about the responsibilities and benefits of owning a pet, but also making Sunshine City one of the best municipalities in the nation for pets.

St. Pete PAWS began in the spring of 2018, when incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman attended a United States Conference of Mayors event.

“[Corporation] Mars Petcare had set up a booth promoting its Better Cities for Pets program, and it said “Sign us up!” says Karen Bartoszek who, in addition to running her own consulting firm Pet Friendly Works, is the project manager for St. Pete PAWS.


St. Petersburg became the first city certified by Better Cities for Pets, and in June Kriseman issued a proclamation officially declaring it a Pet Friendly City.

“Now we’ve turned it into a public-private partnership with 33 companies, known as the St. Pete PAWS Collective,” Bartoszek says.

The effort, inclusiveness and outreach of the initiative has seen it expand to encompass four sub-committees overseeing efforts in four distinct areas. The new category, Health, focuses on “the positive impact pets can have on the health of individuals and the community.” Parks is concerned with teaching responsible ownership through efforts such as maintaining dog parks and providing litter bags at various locations, while Housing aims to “advance fair and unrestricted housing for domestic animals”.

It’s the business arm of St. Pete PAWS, however, that has local businesses upping the ante when it comes to welcoming puppies into their property. Interested parties can become certified as a Mayor’s pet-friendly business by completing an application that outlines requirements such as adequate insurance coverage, prominent pet guidelines, and standards of care. cleanliness, among others.

“It’s for businesses that take the idea of ​​pet-friendly to the next level,” says Bartoszek.

The Grand Central Brewery on Central Avenue, which opened last November and has plenty of outdoor and indoor spaces for pooches, is one of the newest of 18 St. Pete businesses currently certified.

Grand Central Brewhouse is a Mayor’s Certified Pet-Friendly Business. (Scott Harrell)

“I’m definitely a dog lover myself,” says Kevin Milkey, founder and president of Grand Central. “My dog ​​Lucy is a Shiba Inu, she’s not bad at the brewery. When I designed the brewery I wanted to have a huge outdoor area, we have a large traditional beer garden so people can enjoy the outside air but also bring their dogs. Dogs are also allowed inside, they can go anywhere on the property – when it’s warm they love to come in and lay on the polished concrete floor.

When Milkey heard about the St. Pete PAWS initiative, he knew it would be a great way to let potential customers know how committed the brewery was to providing great space for their pets.

“We went through all the protocols to get approved,” he says. “St. Pete is incredibly dog-friendly… It’s a great initiative.

“Each employee has a dog or a cat,” says Matt O’Connell, general manager of Grand Central Brewhouse. “And with St. Pete being as dog-friendly as he is, we also want to be a part of that and be inclusive. Why not join this culture? We just want to be part of the community.

If you’re looking to bring your well-behaved canine best friend to celebrate this National Dog Day, the city has a handy online map featuring the Mayor’s pet-friendly businesses as well as restaurants, dog parks and more. services.

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