I finally saw it. I was in a "dog friendly" bar (I will not name which one) when a couple walked in with a little dog and took three seats: one for the woman, one for the man, and one for their wee howler. The pet seemed very interested in everything (the cups, the forks, the knives, the condiments, the people eating at a booth), and was blissfully fine with the fact that its naked asshole was planted on the seat. The couple was served drinks and food, ate and drank, and left. A moment later, a youngish man (and here I must point out he was black, the bartender was white, and the couple that had just departed with their dog were also white). The black man ordered a shot of whisky and a pint of beer. But when the bartender placed the ordered booze on the counter, something behind the black man immediately transformed the friendly expression on his face into one that expressed alarm.

"You can't have that in here," said the bartender sternly. I turned expecting to see a dog, and therefore a potentially racial situation—why can't the black man also have a howler in this bar? But instead, I found a little baby in a carriage. The black man understood the situation, downed his drinks like that, and said, with a look of relief: "No problem. I really needed a drink, but in this city it's hard to find a place you can drink with your kid." He paid and pushed the carriage out of the dog-friendly but baby-intolerant establishment.

I had long suspected that it was easier to enter a bar with a dog than a baby. And with good reason. The penalty for breaking the law that restricts minors from "taverns, or lounges" (WAC 314-29-015) is much, much harsher than the penalty for the law that prohibits animals from "food establishments in Washington State" (WAC 246-215-06570). Indeed, the former law is enforced with undercover agents. Establishments in our city, which has far more dogs than babies, often find the risk of being dog friendly acceptable because the law is not aggressively enforced.

A blogger for the firm Stearns Law writes:

Here in Seattle, the Department of Public Health for Seattle and King County doesn’t enforce the Washington Administration Code unless an animal is on the premises during an inspection. A spokesperson for the Department of Public Health for Seattle and King County, Hilary Karasz, states, “restaurants will not be shut down merely because they allow dogs; it would take a food-borne illness, staff not washing their hands or something along those lines.” According to Karasz, dogs on restaurant premises is a potential health risk, but “it’s not a big health risk.”

Fine. But isn't it a bit odd that adults can't drink with their babies (which are, after all, humans), but they can do so with their dogs?