San Francisco Cracks Down on Dog Walkers
Have you ever been pushed off the sidewalk because someone is walking too many dogs at one time? Do you hope your pooch isn't fed foot-longs like in "Dumb and Dumber?" The Board of Supervisors in San Francisco passed legislation today cracking down on dog walkers gone wild.
The legislation puts in effect new requirements, including limiting the amount of dogs one walker is allowed to walk at one time to eight. It is set to begin no later than January 1, 2013.
With this new legislation, dog walkers walking more than four dogs on city property must apply for a permit and obey certain courtesies. So fear not, your little one will no longer be terrified when a huge group of dogs charges down the block.
Applicants will be forced to complete 20 hours of training classes, or go through a 48-hour apprenticeship. Supervisor Scott Wiener, who spearheaded the legislation, said it's important because he believes without dog walkers, most San Franciscans wouldn't be able to own their pets.
"One-third of San Francisco households have dogs, and commercial dog walkers provide a critical service. Many wouldn't be able to own them without dog walkers. We have approximately 500 dog walkers in the city, some are extraordinary and some have no training," Wiener told ABC News.
"I thought that now was the time to put something in place," he added.
Nancy Stafford, co-director of the San Francisco Professional Dog Walkers Association, told ABC News they have been trying to pass these permits for close to eight years.
"We actually suggested some of those rules for the permits because we are trying to elevate the profession. Anyone can become a dog walker right now. There are no standards," she said.
She told ABC News she is happy there is now a maximum number of dogs a walker can handle. Many complained about people who were walking "hoards of dogs."
"The number was infinity, so now we have a number, a controllable number," she said.
The legislation includes many other qualifications in order to obtain the permit. Walkers will be required to learn proper dog park behavior like picking up after their dogs and other restrictions. They will also need to learn canine first-aid, and how to control and safely transport dogs.
Leashes must also be carried for each dog at all times, and proper leash laws must be followed. The walkers must carry water in case Fido needs a sip after a long walk. All permit holders will need to take out a $1 million liability insurance policy.
Donna Milich, owner of Hot Diggity Dog Walking!, told ABC News most professional dog walkers have already completed some of these regulations and encourage them.
"I'm in support of it," she told ABC News. "We do welcome the regulations to bump up our image. The safety of the pets is the most important thing."
Although Stafford and the San Francisco Professional Dog Walkers association were very supportive of the legislation, she was still surprised it was passed unanimously.
"I was very impressed it passed 11-0," Stafford told ABC News.