Dog walkers could be charged licence fee
The City of Toronto is proposing changes for professional dog walkers who take their clients into city parks, including pooch licencing and a limit on the number of dogs walkers can handle at a time.
Dog walkers who attended a public meeting Wednesday night heard they could soon be charged between $100 and $200 for a yearly licence fee.
The draft policy also includes recommendations that dog walkers have $1 million worth of liability insurance.
The city says the idea is aimed at preventing damage to parks that result from an abundance of pets.
"When you have a lot of dogs in the park, it tends to really rip up the turf," Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) told CTV News.
"So the cost of the permit would go to park replenishment and just keeping all the grass, or whatever the conditions are, in pretty good shape."
Some professional dog walkers are upset by the proposal and feel they are being unfairly targeted. Jonas Struthers said the policy's proposal to walker pay a fine for unlicensed dogs instead of the owner doesn't make sense.
Struthers also pointed out that professionals may have the difficult choice of taking unlicensed pooches and risking a fine, or losing some of thier business. He said the proposal is another example of the city trying to penalize small business
"I just don't think that it's fair that the penalty is on the walker. We're just not in a position to refuse client's dogs from walking them because we need to keep those revenues coming in," Struthers said.
Sally Pickering, another professional dog walker who's insured and bonded, is willing to pay for a permit to walk her clients' dogs in city parks, but she says the policy might cause problems when other walkers avoid the permit areas and use public sidewalks.
"People who can't afford the permit aren't going to use the parks," Pickering said. "They're going to go on the streets and the sidewalk, and that's not a safe place for five dogs to be walking around other people."
Another recommendation is to limit dog walkers to a maximum of five or six dogs.
Dog walkers are also being encouraged to pick up and dispose of waste by using the green bins where they exist, and if there aren't any, to take it home with them.
Feedback provided by the dog walkers will be submitted to Toronto's parks and recreation department on July 4.
The issue will go before city council on July 16.
With a report from CTV's MairiAnna Bachynsky