Supervisor Scott Wiener has taken the bold step of authoring some new legislation that will make it illegal for dog walkers in San Francisco to walk more than seven pooches at a time. So, in short, our Board of Supervisors have extended their nanny-state agenda from saving our children from Happy Meals to saving birds from buildings and now saving dogs from being walked under extra-crowded conditions.
At the heart of the matter seems to be the complaint that dog walkers who walk too many dogs at once don't pick up all the poop that spills forth out of their many behinds. Wiener says he is open to revising the maximum number, and dog walkers complain that they need to be able to walk enough dogs at once to make money. Also coming down the pike is federal legislation regarding Ocean Beach that will limit walkers to six leashes at maximum.
Under Wiener’s proposed ordinance, a permit for dog walking would cost $250 for the first year and need to be renewed every year for $100. Violations would result in fines of up to $500, and the offending dog walkers names would be posted on the Animal Care and Control Department site for up to three years. We're sure the SFPD is going to LOVE enforcing this one. Not.
Update: This comment is from Supervisor Scott Wiener, the author of the legislation:
Thank you for covering the legislation. It's easy to characterize a lot of different kinds of legislation as "nanny state," but respectfully, that is not the case here. This legislation is not a sudden or new thing. Dogwalkers and dog owners have been pushing for this legislation for almost a decade. The strongest proponents are the professional dogwalker associations, who are eager to set basic standards for their profession. They worked with me on the legislation since day one. Since I introduced the legislation, I have received feedback from an enormous number of dogwalkers, and the vast majority support the legislation, though understandably people have diverse views about what the legislation should look like.
In addition, San Francisco is not even close to the first city to adopt dogwalker regulations. We'll be something like number 10 or 12, including Toronto, Boulder, the Easty Bay Park District, and Marin County. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) and Presidio Trust will also be setting regulations, including a limit on the number of dogs. If everyone around us is regulating dogwalkers, including limiting the number of dogs, but we do not, guess what that means for our parks. They will become that much more attractive for dogwalkers.
What the article doesn't mention is that in addition to the limit on the number of dogs, the ordinance also requires that dogwalkers receive training, transport dogs in a safe manner, carry first aid kits in their vehicles, have liability insurance, and carry enough leashes with them for each dog, and so forth. So, to state that the law is simply about dog poo is incorrect. It's about setting basic standards for people who are using our city parks, currently for free, to conduct their businesses. Dogwalkers provide a critical service for San Franciscans, but their businesses also have impacts on our parks. As a result, it's perfectly reasonable to set standards.
This legislation is supported by dogwalker professional associations, the City's major dog owner groups, and the SPCA. The Small Business Commission voted unanimously to support it.