Leeds City Council to review new dog walking rules

Council bosses in Leeds are to review a new regulation that limits the number of dogs a person can take for a walk at any one time.

Under a dog control order introduced on January 1, the maximum number of dogs that can be walked at once is restricted to four.

But the move brought an out cry from professional dog walkers who warned their businesses could go under and urged the council to raise the limit to six.

The council is to review the rule and in the meantime people will be able to walk up to six dogs at any one time, providing they are under control and not causing a nuisance.

Officials are to consider a suggestion that people wanting to walk five or six dogs be granted a licence and in return they would conform to a strict code of conduct, including insurance requirements, properly controlling the dogs and cleaning up after them.

Licences would be withdrawn from those breaking the code.

The new rules are the end of a long consultation process aimed at making Leeds a more dog- and people-friendly city.

It was originally proposed that the limit be as high as six, but it was switched to four on the recommendation of the council's environment and neighbourhoods scrutiny board. Public consultation indicated a majority of people favoured setting the limit at four or less.

Richie Womersley, director of The Dog Walker Yorkshire Ltd, told the board's latest meeting: "This is an unfair targeting of our industry.

"Established businesses will see their income drop quite dramatically. You will single-handedly ruin this business. You will force these tax-paying companies to close."

Anne Beardsall, a professional dog walker, argued that those acting responsibly should not be penalised because of those not showing proper care when walking dogs.

She said: "We would support action against those who bring our profession into disrepute."

Ms Beardsall added that professional dog walkers had different strategies for ensuring any dog waste was cleaned up and disposed of appropriately.

The board agreed to the review and a report on a possible licensing scheme will be brought to a future meeting.

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