Saskatoon dog walker says proposed bylaw amendment ‘would destroy my business’

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WATCH: A dog walker says bylaw changes proposed by the City of Saskatoon could put his livelihood at risk. – Feb 7, 2020

A Saskatoon dog walker says a proposal to limit the number of dogs people can take to off-leash areas would be detrimental to his business.

The animal control bylaw doesn’t currently limit how many dogs each person can take to dog parks, but city administration is proposing amending the bylaw to include a four-canine cap.

“It would destroy me as a person because this is the love of my life,” professional dog walker Alex McDougall said. “It would destroy my business and it would upset a lot of my clients ⁠— not only just my clients but all the dog walkers.”

READ MORE: Saskatoon’s Avalon Dog Park closing for expansion work

McDougall is at the dog park five days a week. He walks up to 10 dogs at a time, multiple times a day.

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Cutting the pack in half would seriously reduce his income.

Safety concerns arise when people have multiple dogs with them, according to a report prepared for the city’s planning, development and community services committee.

“Owners who bring more than 4 dogs are less likely to maintain voice or sight command, to remove all their dog’s defecation, and manage their dog’s behaviour in a timely manner,” the report reads.

McDougall said he always keeps an eye on his dogs, but he understands that people who aren’t professional dog walkers might not do the same.

Alex McDougall walks up to 10 dogs at a time in off-leash areas. Devon Latchuk / Global News
“If they haven’t got a handle on [their dogs], then they shouldn’t be here,” said McDougall, owner of the Roving Hound.
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He said licensed professionals should be excluded if a limit is approved.

The report also makes note of concerns about naughty dogs repeating nuisance behaviours in off-leash areas.

The city solicitor has proposed a three-strike policy, which would bar dogs with three or more bad-behaviour violations from entering dog parks.

“If it’s a nuisance violation, I can totally understand that,” McDougall said. “Same if a dog bites or anything like that.”

Nuisance behaviours listed in the animal control bylaw include biting, excessive barking, and damaging property.

READ MORE: Regina adding 2 more off-leash dog parks in 2020

While multiple violations aren’t common, the city said it’s on owners to know how many violations their pet has.

Animal control officers can get that information through an animal’s licence tag. The city said they routinely patrol dog parks.

The proposed bylaw amendments are up for discussion at the city’s planning, development, and community services meeting on Tuesday.

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