Dog walkers are to be licensed by Brighton and Hove City Council in a crackdown on ‘cowboy dog walkers’.
From today, dog walkers are being invited to undergo an inspection and sign up to a Code of Conduct in return for a licence – the first such scheme in the country.
Animal Welfare Officer Amanda Teale said members of the public had raised safety concerns over people walking several dogs at once, with reports some were behaving “irresponsibly”.
She said: “In addition, people offering dog walking services approached us about the increasing numbers of what they described as ‘cowboy’ dog walkers.”
Under the scheme dog walkers volunteer to undergo an inspection of any vehicles used for transporting animals, provide insurance information and sign up to a dog walker’s Code of Conduct. Companies that have signed up to the code of conduct and passed the inspection will be listed on the council’s website.
Professional dog walker Paul Simmons, who runs “Woofters,” based in Hove was one of the first to register and have his vehicle inspected by animal welfare officers.
“I think the dog walker registration scheme is a great idea,“ he said. “It will ensure that high standards are maintained by reputable businesses and for pet owners it will take the worry out of choosing a dog walker.
“The majority of dog walkers work to a high standard but during the last year there has been an explosion of new businesses and some are clearly not up to scratch.
“This new scheme should help keep standards up. It’s good for us, good for our customers and good for the city.”
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, cabinet member for environment, said: “Dog walking businesses have grown rapidly over past few years as owners return to work, or work longer hours. But until now, the only way to get a recommendation was through word of mouth.
“We’ve had a great response from dog walkers keen to get the council’s seal of approval for their businesses.
“Those using dog walking services are also pleased that a list of businesses that have signed up to the code will now be available from the council.”
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