About three years ago, Scott Porter was looking to find a way to take part of the craft brewing revolution when he stepped into a cat café near Portland, Oregon. The place, Purringtons Cat Lounge, had felines roaming about and offered wine and beer. Patrons could even adopt a cat if they found one they liked.
It was then his son, Rick, remarked how much better it would be if the place had dogs instead. “Cats are rather independent and often want to be left alone. Dogs love to be around people,” he recalled his then 20-year-old son saying.
In February, Porter opened Fido’s — billed as the world’s first dog tap house. Just behind a Wal-Mart in Tigard Oregon, just outside Portland, patrons can choose from 30 Northwest craft beers on tap and play with shelter dogs. If customers fall in love with one of the mutts, they can even adopt – though not on the same day. To make sure no one is adopting a dog under the influence of alcohol, Fido’s has a 3 day waiting period. In the first month, nine dogs have found a new home from customers at Fido’s.
Patrons can watch several dogs through a glass window while in the tap house. They are not allowed to carry their ales and porters into the room with the dogs, though.There is a $4 fee to go into the dog room for 30 minutes, with a portion of those proceeds going to charity.
“The community is in love with the concept,” said Porter, 53, who has two dogs at home. Porter, a former air force pilot who has owned his own small businesses for years, said he’s happy to find a way to come into craft beer business in a unique way.
“Fido’s is an awesome idea and we are learning as we go,” said Anne Sommer, director of development of Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals which supplies the dogs and handles adoptions at Fido’s. “People are relaxed while they are there and this gives a lot of awareness about rescue animals and to the work we do,” she said. This helps the whole rescue business so much.”
She said reason for the waiting period to adopt was so no one gets a little tipsy and then wakes up with a dog next to their bed. And the shelter want to make sure the whole family gets to meet the dog before an adoption. Fido’s allows children to visit which makes the whole place a perfect place for families.
Fido’s walls are plastered with pictures of dogs. And the televisions even play videos of dogs. Even the bathrooms have dog photos. “All the pictures in the taproom are dogs,” says Porter. “There’s not one beer sign. Even when you go to the bathroom, there’s a dog rescue story.”
The tap list at Fido’s is ever changing with Deschutes, Rogue (whose Dead Guy Ale recently won gold in the 2018 NY International Beer Competition), Sunriver among the many Oregon brews. The food list at Fido’s includes -what else?- hot dogs, along with salads, chicken wings and pretzels. Patrons will be able to bring their own dogs to Fido’s when the weather warms and the outdoor patio opens this spring.
While dogs are ever present at many breweries these days, a dog rescue and taproom has never been tried before. “This is still a big experiment,” Porter said. To reduce crowds, customers can even make reservations for a 30-minute window to spend time with the pups.
The need to help rescue animals is huge. According to the SPCA, about 670,000 dogs are euthanized annually due to overpopulation. That’s over 12,000 per week. Area nonprofits animal organizations spend so much of their time fundraising, which takes away their capacity to find homes for shelter dogs. This is what prompted Porter to promote and support charities that are tackling the homelessness issue for dogs.
After working in sales and marketing and running his own dry cleaning delivery business, Porter said he’s finally found his life’s calling. “This is the first job that I have been passionate about…it’s a thrill.”
For more information about beers that give back to charity, please read here.
Phil Galewitz has been writing about the the craft brewing industry in the Mid-Atlantic states since 2011. He lives in Washington D.C. and South Florida. Twitter: @philgalewitz Instagram: Philmorebeer. He visits over 300 breweries a year across the United States.