St Albans dog lovers condemn professional walkers not in control

How many dogs is too many for professional walkers to control?

How many dogs is too many for professional walkers to control? - Credit: Getty Images

Dog lovers have united to condemn professional walkers trying to take out 10 or more pooches in one go.

They say not only are owners probably unaware the dogs are being treated in this way but it is an accident waiting to happen, as one person cannot adequately control so many dogs - on or off their leads.

About six months ago a 78-year-old man was knocked over by three big dogs off-lead in Verulamium Park, hit his head and had to be hospitalised, because the owners had no control.

His daughter, Wendy Brook, who grew up in St Albans but now lives in Hatfield, described the practice of walking too many dogs as a “menace at best, dangerous at worst”.

She said: “It’s intimidating, and we are left vulnerable - it’s intimidating for young children.

“Children are going to get hurt and how many maulings and deaths will it take before something is done?”

Wendy described more than four dogs as essentially a “pack”.

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A lot of insurance companies will only cover dog walkers who stick to a limit on the number they walk, which is set at about six.

Excessive numbers of dogs being walked have been seen most recently at Bricket Wood Common and the landowner, Henry Holland-Hibbert, said he once rescued a baby muntjac deer which had been attacked after the walker could not supervise about 14 dogs.

He said: “There seems to be a general theme if you speak to responsible dog walkers that you only walk four dogs - more is excessive and it’s out of control.

“We had an incident where someone was walking with 14 dogs, and they were completely out of control, and attacked a baby muntjac and luckily I was there to deal with it.

“It was all right, and I explained to him that it was ridiculous to have that number. He had no control.” He stressed the majority of dog walkers are “respectful”, but would welcome the introduction of an official to monitor the situation.

Bricket Wood resident Lesley Preston, of Dogtastic grooming, said: “The thing is, you can’t control that many dogs, four dogs would be the maximum.

“Because even if you are a responsible dog owner if something goes wrong it could cause harm to another dog, another human, another child. It could run away from you and into the road and cause an accident.”

Founder of St Albans’ Woof Woof Walk, Catherine Crompton, said it was impossible to control 10 dogs: “When walking you have to watch every minute, every hour, every second, and you have to have them in your eye line all the time.

“There are very good dog walkers in the area, but for the ones that do walk eight or 10 at a time, it’s a concern because what is going to happen is the very good ones get lumped in with the bad ones in the public perception.

“This guy will ruin it for everyone.”

The Association of Profession Dog Walkers (APDW) advises a maximum of six dogs at any one time.

Chairman Gus Coulton said: “If you are walking a couple of elderly labradors then frankly, you are not going to have much trouble anyway - but if you are walking dogs that are new to you, or are excitable, then it will be an issue.

“Its about the consideration the dog walker has for the environment, the dogs, and the public. I know of some good dog walkers who sometimes walk more than six and are in full control, but if particular walkers have got backlash, they probably don’t.”

He described the six-dog limit as a “good rule of thumb”.