Los Angeles dog walkers upset with off-leash park laws
Posted Jun 07 2009 11:13pm
On December 16 a law went into effect in Los Angeles which limits a person to walking no more than three dogs at a time at public dog parks. Many dog walkers are upset with this law due to the nature of their business. Other park-goers want the laws to be enforced.
Each working day, Ross and Kelly Levy cavort with nearly three dozen dogs at Laurel Canyon Park.
The alpha handlers of the pack, their Kelly’s Pet Care uniforms make them the most visible professional dog walkers at the off-leash canine park in Studio City.
“Pogo, hi Pogo! Woodrow, come here!,” yells Ross Levy of the husband-wife team, tossing a Frisbee over his right shoulder while shaking a dog toy above his left during a three-hour dog romp. “Come on!”
There’s just one problem: Six months after the city passed a law limiting each person to three dogs at its nine off-leash dog parks, scores of dog walkers far exceed their legal mutt max.
At Laurel Canyon Park, the three-dog limit has long been posted - but ignored.
Then the city passed an ordinance last year to standardize the rules for all nine dog parks to those previously set by Department of Recreation and Park commissioners.
The law, which took effect Dec. 16, includes a rule allowing three dogs per person per park. A violation is now a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Park police say they’ve been hesitant to enforce it until new rule signs are made and posted.
“We should have these signs posted very shortly,” said Chief Gary Newton of the General Services Department, whose Office of Public Safety patrols some 400 parks and 72 libraries. “And we will soon collaborate with the Animal Services Department to make sure people have no more than three dogs, in addition to other violations.”
Newton said anyone who wants to exceed that limit can file for a permit from the city parks department.
Ten years ago, Kelly Levy left the restaurant business to start a dog-walking service. She was soon joined by her husband Ross, formerly of Sony Pictures.
Each day, between noon and three, they pack two marked vans of dogs to Laurel Canyon Park, where they and an assistant play on its eastern glade.
On a recent day, they conducted their high-calorie workout of 32 dogs, which were joined by visiting pooches. There were no fights. Each animal was closely supervised.
But while the Van Nuys couple charges $35 per dog, its owners say no money changes hands at the park for a North Hollywood-based business that can gross $180,000 a year.
They said they are willing to pay for permits allowing limited access for a greater number of dogs during special hours of the day.
They also said they know they are breaking rules, but have contacted the city and received no guidance on how to obtain a permit to break them.