Possibility of new regulation on St Albans professional dog walkers
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Professional dog walkers may soon be subject to strict new regulation in parks around the district.
St Albans district council officers are considering whether new by-laws are the solution to a district-wide problem of walkers exercising too many dogs at once.
Bricket Wood Common in particular has seen handlers bring so many hounds onto the green that it is dangerous for wildlife, people, and the dogs themselves.
District councillor Sue Featherstone said sometimes there are 20 dogs exercised at once: “Control is obviously seriously compromised - dogs are owned by different people so understanding and obeying commands can be difficult and the group of dogs may well form a pack with disastrous consequences.
“Attacks on wildlife have occurred already, on Bricket Wood Common for instance a muntjac deer was mauled by a group of dogs and potentially other attacks on users of the common are possible.”
It is unclear what form a by-law would take if SADC decide to go ahead - that would be finalised at a future meeting.
However, not everybody agreed new rules was the best answer.
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Cllr David Yates was concerned: “These are things that should not be taken lightly, they open the council to considerable criticism, opposition, and ridicule.
“I am sure members are aware that one thing prohibited is mending a chair on Hampstead Heath, selling lucky heather in Blackpool, laying down in a park in Gravesend - you cannot lay down if you are in a park in Gravesend - and in Hillingdon if you gather in groups of two or more persons, unless going to or from a parked vehicle or going to a bus at a designated bus stop, you are committing a public order offence.”
Cllr Malachy Pakenham did not support creating by-laws which are not enacted, as it “brings the law into disrepute”.
A lot of insurance companies will only cover dog walkers who stick to a limit on the number of dogs they walk at once, which is set at around six.
Cllr Katherine Gardner questioned whether any profit-making activity should be allowed in parks, such as fitness classes: “Perhaps we need to look more at the commercial organisations using our public amenities for profit because it doesn’t seem fair to me that they are making a profit at council tax payers’ expense.”