Calgarians love their animals, which is evidenced by the number of packed dog parks throughout the city and the amount of owners with pet pics on their desks at work … often instead of partners and kids. According to the last census taken, the city averaged about one dog per every 10 people, which means that there are likely more than 1.5 million four-legged friends keeping their human companions company. At the time of the census, there were about half as many cats as dogs registered in the city.
There’s nothing worse than being stuck at work while we think about our pets languishing at home alone, pining after us and potentially getting into mischief. So, in order to help combat that guilt, many of Calgary’s smart entrepreneurs have begun small businesses as dog walkers and pet sitters.
If you are one of the good people who cares for pets as a profession, you need to be registered as a business and be sure to carry small business insurance. And don’t forget about your vehicle. If you are picking up puppies and dropping them off after a good run, you absolutely must have commercial vehicle insurance. Without commercial vehicle insurance, you will likely not be covered in case of an accident. Small business insurance works to help keep you afloat should anything happen that threatens to harm you or the integrity of your business, and there are specific coverages available for animal care providers.
Animal care provider insurance
Animal care provider insurance is suitable for professions such as dog walkers, pet day-care providers, dog trainers, pet sitters, pet boarders and pet groomers. This type of coverage will protect you in situations such as:
- A lawsuit if someone’s pet is hurt, injured, or becomes sick while under your care.
- The tools and equipment you use are stolen or damaged due to circumstances out of your control.
- You must stop working due to an insured event occurring.
- If you do not transport pets but still use your vehicle for work, animal care provider insurance will keep you on the road after an accident.
Other coverages you may consider are commercial property insurance and commercial general liability insurance. Our experienced and knowledgeable insurance brokers here at Lane’s can help you find the right coverage for you and the size of your business.
Updates to the responsible pet ownership bylaw affecting dog walkers
Updates to Calgary’s Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw went into effect at the beginning of January, 2022, and take into account the changing landscape of pet ownership in Calgary. A number of changes have been made that are meant to help facilitate responsible pet ownership.
Dog walkers need to be aware that there are different limits for when their charges are on- or off-leash. You are now limited to care for and control no more than six off-leash dogs in an off-leash area at once, which should mean you can watch them all better. There is no limit to the number of dogs that can be walked on-leash, which provides for a number of interesting creative possibilities as to how to attach them all to you.
Don’t forget that these same old rules still apply:
- All dogs must have their City of Calgary dog tags on their collars at all times
- You cannot leave a dog alone, even if it is on a leash
- You can only transport your dogs in the back of a truck if it is a fully enclosed trailer, a truck bed covered with a topper, contained in a ventilated kennel that is secured to the truck bed, or securely tethered and not standing on bare metal
- You must be prepared to pick up feces at all times (keep a lot of baggies with you!)
- Dogs must be within your sight and respond to sight or sound commands when in an off-leash park
- When walking on a pathway, you must keep to the right and not obstruct the movement of others on the path in any way
Don’t forget that you can’t take your dogs on or in to:
- School grounds
- Sports fields
- Golf courses
- Wading or swimming areas
Fines for non-compliance
Dogs don’t have bank accounts, but business owners do. Improperly behaved or unlicensed canines (and humans) can incur major fines, such as:
- $250 for no license
- Not picking up dog feces can result in a fine of from $250 to $500
- A dog not under control or not leashed can result in a fine of $100
- The owner/carer of a dog contravening the noise bylaw can be fined $250
If a pet attacks
It is terrifying when a dog attacks, and sometimes it can happen out of the blue. If one of your charges appears aggressive, it’s probably a good idea to not take it on as a permanent client. In addition to biting and injuring a person, dogs must never chase another dog or person, bark or howl causing disturbance, cause property damage, or scatter garbage.
With proper commercial general liability insurance coverage, you will be compensated for the costs associated with injuries and treatment associated with the victims’ recovery. Depending on the severity of the incident, the dog may be removed from its owners, impounded, and even put down.
Lane’s Insurance keeps all your loved ones safe