An Instagram video showing a man pulling a dog along on its hind legs down a Toronto street has horrified some pet owners — and has one city councillor calling for stricter regulations for dog walkers.
The 59-second clip shows a man walking several dogs, one of which is being made to walk on its hind legs. When he's confronted about it by the person shooting the video, Aleksander Kupisz, he responds that he's trying to keep the dog close to him.
The walker, Austin St-Jacques, who told CBC Toronto he runs his own dog walking service, later defended his actions.
"The dog was in a harness and the dog was walking on their hind legs," he said. "I don't know if it's that much more strenuous for their hind legs and their chest if they're in a harness. The dog walked amazingly for the rest of the walk."
The clip has so far garnered thousands of views and hundreds of comments on Reddit and Instagram since it was posted last Thursday. Some posters suggesting St-Jacques should be prosecuted.
Kupisz told CBC Toronto he has filed a complaint with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Joel Laceda, owner of dog walking service called MerryMutt.com, said he employed St-Jacques for a couple of months last summer, but was unhappy with his performance. And he called for better regulation of the dog walking industry.
"The dogs can't tell on you when you're doing something wrong," he said in an interview Monday. "The main thing is the job is totally unsupervised. At the end of the day, someone is going to do the easiest job for themselves."
Councillor: Stricter licensing needed
Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38 Scarborough Centre), who sits on the city's municipal licensing and standards committee, agreed that the city needs to beef up its regulation of dog walkers.
He said that anyone who walks more than three dogs for a living must get a licence from the city, but the only requirements are that the applicant show identification, and prove that they have $2-million worth of insurance, should any of the dogs in their care bite.
"When it comes to professional dog walkers, yes, I think the city should be looking at how we can strengthen the bylaws," he said, "to make sure the people walking your dog are actually safe."
Some of those who saw the video online also took a dim view of St-Jacque's actions.
On Instagram, Sadiebear4ever said: "The issue here is not just the dragging of the dog, which is bad enough, but also the other dogs that he's allowing to run on the streets unleashed. That is illegal and very unsafe."
'Not the way dogs walk'
And at Bickford Park, which has an off-leash dog area, Josh Hoodless told CBC Toronto: "That is disturbing. The dog look really nervous and timid.
"It looks like a scumbag move to me, personally."
Rachel Pisani who was walking her dog Dale, said the clip "looks like he's hurting the dog. It's definitely not a natural way for a dog to walk so it seems silly to force them to.
"I would never do that; it's not the way dogs walk. It really disturbs me."