SF law keeps dog walkers on short leash


Heel. Sit. Good girl.

If walking a dog — or half a dozen dogs — was that easy, there would be no need for a new San Francisco law imposing restrictions on the previously unregulated occupation of dog-walker.

But since Gypsy, Sam and Champ —naturally — don’t always heel, sit and stay, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a law to set some standards for the entrepreneurs tasked with working out more than four dogs at any time.

Effective Monday, anybody walking four dogs or more needs to jump through a series of bureaucratic hoops to prove their mettle as a suitable pack leader for cocker spaniels, Chihuahuas and pit bulls.

To obtain a required permit from the Animal Care and Control Department, hopeful dog walkers must first undergo 20 hours of training on subject matter from preventing dog fights to the principles of good pack management.

After the training, 40 hours of “practical experience” working with an already-certified dog-walker is required to qualify for a permit under the new city regulations, which costs $240 a year.

If anybody thinks it’s easy to wrangle a Toyota truckful of apartment-pent dogs, think again. Last year, SF State Journalism student Gaute Bergsli explored issues between dog owners and dog walkers at Pine Lake Park at Stern Grove.

Even on a calm day, dog walker Cecilia Hermida told Bergsli the jog of dog walker can have its stressful moments:

“Some days  I have nine, some days I have five. Some days I have twelve, so I have to divide them… It’s stressful — for me. They have a lot of fun, but for me … over seven dogs starts getting stressful, because I only have two eyes.”

Jesse Garnier
Jesse Garnier is the editor and founder of SFBay. A Mission District native, he also teaches journalism as assistant professor at San Francisco State University.

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