Professional dog walkers could be ‘leashed’ in CRD parks

Professional dog walkers could be 'leashed' in CRD parks

WATCH: With complaints on the rise, the Capital Region is looking at whether to crack down on professional dog walkers in CRD parks. Tess van Straaten looks at the dog dilemma. 

As the owner of Doggy Style Dog Walking, wrangling a plethora of pooches on walks and adventure hikes is all in a days’ work for Erin Parsons.

“The dogs love the walks and they get socialization, exercise, obedience and they come home tired,” says Parsons.

But the Capital Regional District may be looking to ‘leash’ this activity, with a crackdown on professional walkers in CRD parks that could see limits on how many dogs they can bring and the need for a permit.

“Professional walkers have been in the park for 15 years,” says Parsons. “The best walkers aren’t seen or heard. We kind of stay in the woods and we try to make every interaction as positive as possible.”

But with an estimated 70,000 dogs in Greater Victoria ? and dog and human encounters on the rise ? View Royal mayor David Screech says he’s getting more and complaints about packs of off-leash dogs at Thetis and Francis King parks, in particular.

“I’ve had very impassioned emails from joggers and hikers who use the back trails in Thetis Lake Park especially and they feel there’s a problem,” says Screech, who brought the issue to the CRD Parks Committee. “There are some real concerns from non-dog people and people who have a smaller dog when they come around a corner and there’s 10 dogs running off leash.” 

In addition to the safety concerns, Screech say there’s also the issue of professional dog walkers essentially running their businesses in regional parks ? something other businesses aren’t allowed to do.

Screech says irresponsible dog owners are also an issue and he’d like to see a complete review of dogs in CRD parks. 

As for Parsons, she says a ban on letting the dogs out could take a big ‘bite’ out of business.

“I have two full-time employees and those employees would be out of work,” she says. “It would obviously affect my livelihood.”

And while Parsons admits some newcomers in this fast-growing industry may not be as responsible, walkers believe stepped up enforcement of the current rules which say animals have to be under control, could keep the fur from flying.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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