While it is easy to understand the depth of emotion a person can experience over the loss of a pet, the suggestions put forward following the recent death of six dogs under the care of a dog walker are unrealistic and overly dramatic.
The most unreasonable of the suggestions calls for the establishment of standards for the regulation, qualification and licensing of dog walkers. It all begs the question of where the responsibility of individual dog owners begins and ends.
I am not aware of any parallel suggestion that dog owners themselves should be required to prove their qualifications or abilities in connection with the ownership of their dogs.
At the risk of sounding like an old grump, if you haven’t got the time, knowledge or energy to properly care for your pet, and that should include walking and exercising your dog, you shouldn’t own a dog.
And, for that matter, why target only dog walkers? Why not broaden the scope of this foolishness to include the handlers of birds, cats, hamsters and all other pets?
We already have an extensive body of federal, provincial and municipal laws governing the treatment of virtually every conceivable type of animal or pet known to mankind.
There is no great need for further regulation, but there could be broader emphasis on public information and education on the proper care of pets, including walking your dog.
We are already overburdened with too many laws, regulations and other unnecessary restrictions on our personal freedoms. In addition, we have also ceded our responsibilities in too many areas of our lives to the control of bureaucracies.
The call to establish standards, regulations and licensing for dog walkers must make the heart of every bureaucrat in Canada beat a little faster.
Just imagine – whole new bureaucratic empires that could flourish
Of course, the schedules, fees and other issues to be established would require budgets, staff and a whole range of bureaucratic claptrap which would eventually probably obscure the original purpose of the exercise.
And, not unlike the age-old debates about how many angels can you place on the head of a pin, or how many pickles can a pickle picker pick, there would have to be a method of determining how many dogs a dog walker can walk and where they can be walked. Consideration would also have to be given to the sex of the dogs each dog walker has under their control at any given time lest the more exuberant young males attempt to assert themselves on any lady dogs in the procession.
In short, there are already too many bylaws governing dogs and the places where they are allowed to be present but many of these current standards are ignored by dog owners and those in charge of the applicable bylaws.
With little being done to enforce existing rules, why should anyone think additional regulations would be any more successfully applied?
I have always considered myself to be reasonable and willing to sometimes grudgingly accept conditions that I do not personally favour, so I am willing to concede that some form of dog walking regulation is likely going to be imposed.
However, my personal favourite would be the licensing and regulation of street walkers, who are a much bigger concern in my neighbourhood than dog walkers.
There is already precedent for the district to impose regulations and collect huge fees from activity such as gambling, which some of us old grumps consider to be immoral. Why treat street walkers any different?
Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former district councillor.