Dog walkers in San Francisco will soon be subject to regulations given initial approval today by the Board of Supervisors, including limiting the number of dogs walked at one time in the city.

dog-holding-gavel.jpgDog walkers in San Francisco will soon be subject to regulations given initial approval today by the Board of Supervisors, including limiting the number of dogs walked at one time in the city.

The ordinance, proposed by Supervisor Scott Wiener, requires dog walkers to obtain a permit, sets basic standards for training and equipment used in the job, and requires that no more than eight dogs be walked at one time.

It will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2013.

The board unanimously passed the legislation at this afternoon’s meeting, but not until after extensive discussion between supervisors about the limit on the number of dogs walked at once.

Wiener’s initial legislation proposed seven dogs, while the city’s Small Business Commission had recommended nine and San Francisco Animal Care and Control had recommended six.

Wiener said the ordinance was developed in coordination with the various stakeholders and said it was “important for us to embrace and support this industry” while “protecting our parks and other public property.”

He said eight was the right number because “we wanted to be careful but not overly restrictive.”

However, Supervisor John Avalos proposed to lower the number to six, citing the Animal Care and Control recommendation, while Supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Mark Farrell said the board should make sure the city’s number matches that of the National Park Service, which is also studying the issue and how it would affect the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

After Avalos withdrew his proposal, Supervisor Carmen Chu–who jokingly said “I think one is my limit”–then proposed lowering the number to seven.

That proposal failed, only getting the support of four supervisors.

The board then agreed to unanimously pass the legislation with the limit at eight.

The vote comes less than a week after the death of a baby bison in Golden Gate Park, which was apparently caused by a small dog that got into the enclosure.

Park and zoo officials said last Wednesday, the dog somehow got into the enclosure and apparently scared the bison, causing it to run into a fence in the enclosure.

The bison was later found dead from injuries it suffered in the accident.

Wiener said the incident shows “the need for having rules in place” for the dog walkers.

Wiener said he was told the incident involved a dog walker who had five dogs and had let them off-leash near the bison enclosure.

The dog walker, who has not been identified, was cited for animal disturbance and failure to use a leash in a designated on-leash area, park officials said.

The dog walking legislation passed initially today will return in front of the board next week for final approval.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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  • donnasue

    Eight dogs? are you people crazy? I never walk more than 2 at a time because you’re just a squirrel away from a disasterous situation. Permitting 8 dogs at a time is totally irresponsible and no professional in their right mind should do this. I’ve been in the business over 10 years and I’d never walk more than 2 at a time — my goal is for safety for me, the public, and the dogs that I am entrusted to take care of.

    It’s stupid laws like this that breed anti-dog laws from the uneducated public who may be injured or frightened by a “gang” of dogs not under complete control. There is no way to have absolute control of 8 dogs at a time. Our dogs need safe places to exercise, and everyone should be picking up after them.

    Did it ever occur to this commission to actually consult with professionals who do this work?

  • donnasue

    Eight dogs? are you people crazy? I never walk more than 2 at a time because you’re just a squirrel away from a disasterous situation. Permitting 8 dogs at a time is totally irresponsible and no professional in their right mind should do this. I’ve been in the business over 10 years and I’d never walk more than 2 at a time — my goal is for safety for me, the public, and the dogs that I am entrusted to take care of.

    It’s stupid laws like this that breed anti-dog laws from the uneducated public who may be injured or frightened by a “gang” of dogs not under complete control. There is no way to have absolute control of 8 dogs at a time. Our dogs need safe places to exercise, and everyone should be picking up after them.

    Did it ever occur to this commission to actually consult with professionals who do this work?