Owner system

Calgary puts paws on dog walking limit, offers permit system

Calgary Dog Walkers operations manager Lyndsay Bellemore on a walk with four of the company’s regulars, Oliver, Rundle, Franklin and Bruce. Photo: KIRSTEN PHILLIPS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Calgary is seeking to lift the limit on the number of dogs one person handles, provided they obtain a dog walker license to do so.

However, local dog walking pros say the town is barking the wrong tree.

In May, the bylaw on responsible pet ownership was updated. In this overhaul, the city capped at six the number of dogs anyone could walk in an off-leash area. During the public hearings, professional dog walkers expressed concern that they were not involved in the development of the regulations. Many have said that the six dog limit would have a significant impact on their business or force them to raise prices.

After further consultations, the city came back with this free permit system. It will be discussed at the community development committee meeting on Wednesday.

The administration said it balances the need for public safety in off-leash areas with the concerns of the dog walking industry.

The city said it heard comments during the municipal bylaw engagement suggesting the public was concerned about too many dogs with one person. There are numerous comments in the city’s “What We Heard” text report with concerns over too many dogs under the control of one person.

In the city administrator’s report, he said: “Limiting the number of off-leash dogs per handler improves the handler’s ability to identify and clean up bowel movements, respond to harmful behavior and maintain vocal feedback. and visuals with each dog. “

A handful of other cities have dog walking permits. Toronto, Montreal and Saskatoon allow between three and eight dogs with a paid license. Annual license fees are between $ 100 and $ 500.

Show me the data

Hailey Seidel, co-founder of Calgary Dog Walkers and a member of the stakeholder committee, said the city was ignoring professional dog walkers in the settlement.

“I don’t think they had a clue of the size of our industry, to be honest,” Seidel said.

Seidel said a group of dog walking owners have been hired as part of the license review. This entry process “wasn’t great,” Seidel said. They conducted an online survey, but Seidel said it was an effort to collect information that supported the direction the city wanted.

When Seidel asked about the desired clearance goal, she said she was told the city wanted to reduce bite incidents.

“So I said, ‘Okay, well, where’s the data that supports the idea that professional dog walkers are responsible for a large enough percentage of dog bites in our communities that it should? be regulated, ”Seidel said.

She said she was not completely against a licensing system – for the right reasons. The professional dog walker leash seems like a big step in solving a limited problem.

“I sincerely think the conversations should be about creating amendments to the responsible pet ownership regulation that put the onus on the pet owner,” Seidel said.

Data gathering

Ward 11 Council. Kourtney Penner, who chairs the community development committee, said the rule amendment attempts to strike a balance.

Penner said they need to address concerns from other pet owners about the volume of dogs being handled at the same time. At the very least, with a permit system, they will be able to track the number of incidents.

“Now when reports are released on the dogs, we will be able to understand if they are actually attributed to a licensed dog walker,” said Penner.

“And so I think what it will actually do is build the reputation of the dog walking industry and understand that they are not the cause of the problems in dog parks.”

Penner agrees that more needs to be done to educate prospective dog owners about their duties as owners. But she said it’s not an “one or the other” situation. They can do both.

She hopes it can be as much of a data collection tool as anything else. It cannot be a bureaucratic situation for professional dog walkers.

The city administrator’s report said, if approved, it would delay the off-leash walking limit and dog walking permit until June 30, 2022.