San Francisco Dog Walkers Limited to 8 Dogs at a Time

Dog-walking is now more-strictly regulated in San Francisco.

By Chris Roberts and Lisa Fernandez
|  Tuesday, Jul 2, 2013  |  Updated 11:35 AM PDT
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The days of lawlessness are over for dog walkers in San Francisco.

New rules regulating how many dogs can be walked at one time go into effect Monday in the dog-friendly City by the Bay.

Dog-walkers with four or more animals at a time are now required to have a valid permit issued by the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control, and no walker may have more than eight dogs on leashes at a time, according to the rules.

Dog-walkers' leashes can only be 8-feet, maximum, and they must have $1 million worth of insurance, according to the law. On top of that, commercial dog walkers will need to buy a permit at the annual cost of $240. Violators will be fined $50, $100 and then $500 for each subsequent offense.

Walkers must also clean up after their dogs and supply adequate water.

The law was first proposed by Supervisor Scott Wiener, who noted that about a third of the city's households had dogs and about 500 people are considered "commercial dog walkers," or people who are paid to take the pets for a daily walk while their owners toil away during the day.

If the rules seem strict, they are. And apparently, they're heralded by professional dog walkers themselves.

Sally Stephens, president of SF Dog, a nonprofit promoting responsible dog ownership, told the SF Examiner when the law was being proposed in January 2012, they she believed the new rules would help legitimize the profession.

"We want professional dog walkers to be legit and have more controls," she testified before a committee at the time. "Some (dog walkers) can manage larger groups, but others cannot."

While the eight-dog-per-walker may seem a bit onerous in a city that once let dog walkers strut with as many dogs as they wanted, it could be worse.

In nearby Marin County, the open space district has long limited commercial dog walkers to capping their total of dogs to six. That limit is also true for Boulder, Toronto and West Vancouver, Canada. And in Newton, Mass., commercial dog walkers can only walk up to three dogs at a time.


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