dog walker toronto

These are the rules for dog walkers and doggie daycares under Ontario lockdown

People have been pretty confused about the latest additions to Ontario's pandemic lockdown restrictions, which include an official stay-at-home order and a return to a state of emergency that the provinicial government had initially sloughed in July.

One key point of uncertainty — and of frustration —are the rules surrounding dog walkers, doggie daycares, groomers and similar services that one could argue are essential.

While owners can, of course, still take their pet to their veterinarians' offices for medical care via curbside drop off and pickup only, businesses that provide the aforementioned help are not permitted to operate during the blanket lockdown, which went into effect on Dec. 26.

A representative from the Ontario Ministry of Health confirmed this to blogTO, stating that "these are not retail establishments under O. Reg. 82/20 under the Reopening Ontario Act."

Permitted to continue some or all operations under that section are certain retailers, as well as a hefty list of services that includes "domestic services that support children, seniors or vulnerable persons, including housekeeping, cooking, indoor and outdoor cleaning and maintenance services," as well as security, landscaping, shipping and delivery, and other necessary types of services.

Also, vet care and "other businesses that provide services to animals that are necessary for their health and welfare, including farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters and research facilities" can still remain open.

This unfortunately does not include day boarding — but overnight is okay — dog walking, or grooming, and a number of petitions have been launched by pet and business owners and garnered thousands of signatures as a result.

"Never before have there been so many adopted dogs or young puppies added to families as right now. As members of their family, these dogs have very specific needs that must be met on a daily basis," one reads, adding that more people being able to work from home does not mean that they have the time or energy to properly exercize and socialize their pets.

There are also the frontline workers who are unable to be around to tend to their pets' needs, nor board them while they are away each day.

"We want to plead our case that dog walking is, in fact, an essential service as we are providing for the care and well-being of dogs... dog walking services are as essential as daycare providers."

One petitioning that grooming be allowed once more, meanwhile, aptly states that "injuries will occur when pet owners attempt to be pet groomers [and] we believe that many dogs will suffer as their hair continues to grow and grow and become matted and uncomfortable."

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada has likewise joined the cause, noting in an open letter to the Province that some pet grooming is indeed health-related.

"As the province fights to contain COVID-19, we understand that restrictions play a critical role in keeping our citizens safe... [but] as these measures have been implemented, a gap has opened up with respect to the health maintenance of pets," the non-profit writes. "We have received concerns from these members about the lack of available preventative care options. We hear their concerns and share their sentiment."

It continues on to state that "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" — which is mandated by the Provincial Animal Wellness Services Act.

This is just just one area where everyday residents, business proprietors and/or politicans have taken issue with the province's stringent health and safety guidelines.

Funnily enough, when rumours were circulating that Ontario may adopt a curfew much like Quebec's, citizens were eyeing dog walking as one of the only ways they might be able to get out of the house in the evenings.

Lead photo by

Mike Hayes

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