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Dog walker licence plan 'barking mad'

Saturday, November 30th, 2019 11:26am

By Daniel Clark, Local Democracy Reporting Service

A councillor said it was 'not a practical solution'

A suggestion that all dog owners in Teignbridge and dog walking businesses should be force to pay for a licence have been dismissed as ‘barking mad’.

The council’s overview and scrutiny committee had recommended to the ruling executive that dog walkers who walk other peoples’ dogs, by collecting the dogs from their owners house and returning them, either voluntarily or for a fee should be licensed. The review group also considered an option that all dogs should require a licence.

But Thursday morning’s executive meeting saw senior councillors reject those proposals and asked them to look at the issue again as it would be using ‘a sledgehammer to crack a nut’.

Cllr Alistair Dewhirst, Portfolio Holder for Waste Management & Environmental Health, said that suggestion that individual who have a business such as those who provide a dog walking service only should be licensed was not a practical solution.

He said: “It is the considered opinion of the council that this would not be a practical solution to what in the vast majority of cases are the most micro of micro-businesses. It would be beyond the capacity of the council and it would be putting onerous costs on ultra-micro businesses. I would ask Overview and Scrutiny to have another look at it at this as it feels like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

Prior to the abolition of dog licenses in 1987, they were mandatory, but the requirement was widely ignored, with only about half of owners having one.

Cllr Dewhirst added that while the council could reintroduce licences, it would be way beyond the capability of their resources to do so.

Cllr Gordon Hook, leader of the council, added: “It would be possible but it would be at such a cost it would be prohibitive or ludicrous to do so.”

The executive though did agree to adopt the other six recommendations that had come forward from the overview and scrutiny committee following their review into how successful the new dog controls that were introduced in Teignbridge in April were.

The seasonal dog exclusion areas on beaches will remain between April 1 to September 30, with a report saying there is no evidence to suggest the date should be altered.

The limit to how many dogs can be walked at once will remain at six, with Cllr Dewhirst adding: “This is the correct number and there is no evidence that it should be reduced.”

Cllr Richard Keeling supported keeping the number at six, saying: “I am pleased to will stay set as six and it was totally barking mad to for the number to have initially been set as four with no evidence whatsoever for it.”

Other recommendations adopted by the cabinet include not progressing with the use of body worn cameras for staff and to undertake a publicity campaign to encourage members of the public, Town and Parish Councils to engage with offending and irresponsible dog owners.

Cllr Dewhirst said: “This is about targeting the irresponsible dog owners,” while Cllr Martin Wrigley added: “It is really important that we focus on irresponsible dog owners. We have lost some of the black swans in Dawlish because of dog owners not keeping their dogs on a lead.”

The Review Group will be undertaking a further review of the PSPO in April 2020.

The PSPO introduced in April 2019 means:

  • You must pick up after your dog in public places
  • • Dogs aren’t allowed in areas signed as dog exclusion areas (for example, children’s play parks)
  • • Dogs aren’t allowed on beaches at Dawlish Warren, Dawlish Town, Dawlish Coryton Cove, Teignmouth Town and Shaldon from April 1 to September 30
  • • Dogs must be kept on a lead in certain areas
  • • Dogs must be kept on leads when walking next to a road, on footpaths next to the road or on cyclepaths.
  • • Where a dog is being a nuisance or annoying to people or other animals, people must put their dog on a lead if asked to do so by a council officer or police officer.
  • • One person can only walk a maximum of six dogs at a time.
  • • You must carry sufficient dog poo bags

Anyone breaching any of the eight controls are liable for £100 on-the-spot fines.

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