Dog walking scheme updated

Commercial dog walkers working in Brighton & Hove are being advised to wear ID following concerns from residents about the growing numbers of dogs being exercised together in city parks and public spaces.

The new advice has been included in the council’s ‘code of conduct’ for dog walkers – part of the Dog Walker Registration Scheme.

Residents have recently contacted the council to express their concerns about the growing numbers of dogs being walked together by professional dog walkers. They report seeing up to 50 dogs being exercised at the same time in Hollingbury Park, Stanmer Park, Waterhall, Devil’s Dyke and East Brighton Park.

The residents claim that dog walkers are ‘taking over’ some parks at certain times of day and spoiling the enjoyment of other park users.

In response, the council is asking companies to ensure that staff wear some form of identification and to avoid walking large numbers of dogs together.

The Council’s Dog Walker Registration Scheme was launched in 2009 when the council became the first in the country to invite dog walking businesses to undergo an inspection and sign up to a Code of Conduct. The aim of the voluntary scheme was to balance the needs of pet owners, dog walkers and those who use and enjoy the city’s parks and public spaces.

To join the scheme dog walkers agreed 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.

The code provides guidance on safe and responsible dog walking including information on laws around dog fouling and micro-chipping, transportation of dogs and guidance on numbers of dogs being walked together.

Currently 38 dog walking businesses have signed up to the scheme, passed the inspection and are listed on the council’s website.

The new conditions will require dog walkers to wear identification, and to apply annually for inclusion in the scheme.

Councillor Gill Mitchell said: “These are small but significant changes which we hope will help to balance the needs of dog walkers and other park users.

“It’s important that our parks and open spaces remain safe, accessible and available for all our residents to enjoy.”