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Calgary councillor ponders limits on dog walking businesses

Dog walkers taking a dozen or more canines for a walk has one Calgary city councillor wondering if the city can get them to heel.

Ward 4 councillor Sean Chu said residents brought the issue to his attention, and he wanted to make sure the city addresses the issue in the upcoming review of the responsible pet ownership bylaw.

He put the question to Kurt Hansen, the general manager of community services.

“I saw for myself (…) people walking dogs with up to 12 dogs,” said Chu. “They have dogs all over the place, with only one person looking after them.”

Chu said maintaining control of all the animals is almost impossible in such a situation.

“I’m looking to ensure the review will be sure to include dog walking businesses,” said Chu.

He also asked if there was a short term fix for the problem.

Hansen told Chu the responsible pet ownership bylaw has been in place for 12 years and is due for an update. The review will begin in January of 2019 and is expected to take 18 months, with community consultation.

“Pets are very close to Calgarian’s hearts – that’s what we’ve realized,” said Hansen.

He said there have been only about 10 calls to the city’s 311 line regarding this problem, so in the short term he is encouraging citizens to report instances as they see them, in order to help bylaw officers target any problems.

John Minchin with Spot Dog Walking said he didn’t really have any thoughts on what the city should do in the matter. He said his company only does private dog walks for individual families.

That means if a family has two dogs, they’ll take them together, but they won’t go to parks trying to look after multiple dogs.

“In the two and half years we’ve been in operation, we’ve been asked by one customer whether we could have their dog socialize with others,” said Minchin.

In that same time he’s heard from hundreds of customers who appreciate that the walks are private.

“They see other walkers cruising around, and it doesn’t appear the dogs are being well cared for,” said Minchin.