dog walker toronto

Ontario government now allowing dog walkers during lockdown after backlash

After a number of petitions urging the provincial government to deem dog walking an essential service permitted under the current lockdown in Ontario, officials have finally changed their stance.

"Dog walking services are as essential as daycare providers," thousands of pet owners asserted as they implored Premier Doug Ford's team to amend the Reopening Ontario Act and add businesses providing necessary pet services to the list of those that can continue operating amid the blanket restictions that went into place on Dec. 26.

And, it seems their calls have worked.

"We sought further clarity and our lawyers have informed us that dog walking services are permitted," a representative from the Ministry of Health told blogTO on Tuesday night.

"Pet walkers are permitted to operate under O. Reg. 82/20  for services that are necessary for the immediate health and welfare of the animal only, or provided through curb side pick-up and drop-off of the animal."

This is consistent with the clause of the Act that allows businesses who provide such services — which previously included overnight boarding kennels, veterinary services and animal shelters — to stay open.

Hopefully this will mean a sigh of relief for pet owners, dog walkers and the end of the drama within the community, which has included harassment of those who continued to tend to the pets of frontline workers.

As advocates have stated, even those working from home these days may not "have the available time or energy to get outdoors regularly and routinely to exercise their dog properly."

Meanwhile, doggie daycare and pet grooming remain closed, despite tens of thousands of signatures demanding they be sanctioned for health reasons.

"Without regular non-cosmetic, health-specific maintenance of, hair, skin, nails, and feet for dogs, cats, small mammals, and even birds, health issues can arise quickly," the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada notes in an open letter to Ford.

"Just as the province is encouraging Ontarians to take care of their own health by using services available to them, it is the responsibility of those same people to care for their pets by using services normally available to them to prevent distress, as mandated in the Provincial Animal Wellness Services Act."

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