Council sets limits for use of parks for dog walking

Wandsworth Borough Council (WBC) is cracking down on professional dog walkers in parks.

It has proposed a by-law limiting the number of dogs per park user to four animals. The move follows complaints from other dog owners and park users, plus a failure by many dog walkers to follow a voluntary code of practice set out several years ago. Some have been seen exercising as many as 20 dogs at a time and charging up to £20 per animal. Council cabinet member for environment Kathy Tracey said: “This is becoming very lucrative for some of these dog walkers. If they wish to use our parks and open spaces for commercial purposes then it is only right and proper that we ensure they are capable of staying in control of all the dogs they exercise.” WBC is waiting to hear from DEFRA about whether or not it will be able to enforce the by-law across Wandsworth Common, Hillbrook Park, Falcon Park and Battersea Park, to come into effect early next year. Dog walkers would, however, be able to apply for a free licence to walk more than four dogs. A dog-control unit will assess applicants to ensure that they could adequately control the number of dogs they wish to exercise. It would set out which parks could be used by the individual and at what time of day. The council is keen to point out that not all professional dog walkers cause a problem and that many of them are supporting the proposed initiative.

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