SAN FRANCISCO — At the beginning of the pandemic, animal shelters got cleared of furry friends by people who were in need of companionship after suddenly finding themselves working from home.
Those same people have now been called back to the office and are trying to find someone to watch and walk their beloved pets. But, if you and your pooch don’t have a dog walker lined up yet — good luck finding one.
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In San Francisco, dog walkers are only allowed to handle eight pooches at a time.
“I’ve been getting a lot of calls. It’s been non-stop. Everybody is going back to work,” said dog walker Katherin Nunez-Bartel. “There’s really not enough dog walkers. I try to take as many dogs as I can. I try to help as many dogs as I can, but I even have a wait list.”
The situation is almost as packed at the Grateful Dog in Greenbrae. Owner Ernie Cervantes has room for about 50 dogs a day and the phone is ringing off the hook.
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“We’re getting a lot these days. It’s picking up a lot. We understand that a lot of people acquired dogs over the pandemic and these dogs know nothing but living in a pandemic,” Cervantes told KPIX.
The main problem is separation anxiety for pandemic pups used to always having family around, but now suddenly adjusting to an empty house.
“Our elderly dog didn’t require daycare. She was comfortable being at home by herself. And this one is an anxious little rescue puppy who genuinely doesn’t tolerate being left home by herself. So we needed to figure out something to do with her during the day,” said Claire Kessler-Bradner.
If you haven’t already, experts say the time to starting training your dogs to be alone for longer periods of time is now.
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“They never had to be alone and now we are suffering the consequences because they need to have someone around all the time. A lot of the dogs cannot be left alone for even an hour or two,” said Nunez-Bartel.