Council to consult on plans to register commercial dog walkers

Swindon Borough Council has launched a consultation on plans to introduce a registration scheme for commercial dog walkers following a number of complaints about uncontrolled dogs in large groups.

Under the proposed plans, commercial dog walkers could voluntarily join a Council-run registration scheme, which will require dog walkers to adhere to a code of conduct when out in public places.

The scheme will aim to promote best practice and quality assurance and a list of those that have signed up to the scheme, and promised to abide by the code of conduct, would be made available to the public.

There has been a steady increase in commercial dog walking in the town’s parks and open spaces over the last couple of years. Most of these are professionally run without incident but occasional complaints or queries have been received generally regarding the number of dogs being walked or the dogs exiting vehicles.

The scheme would be similar to one successfully introduced by Edinburgh Council in 2013 which required commercial dog walkers to register in order to be able to use the parks and open spaces in the city.

Cllr Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “Swindon is fortunate to have a large number of parks and open spaces in the Borough which are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

“We recognise that many commercial dog walkers operate in a considerate and professional manner but, unfortunately, it would seem some do not given the complaints we have received.

“We have decided to try a less restrictive approach given the low numbers of complaints, and if agreed, we would encourage professional dog walkers to sign up.

“Professional dog walkers provide an invaluable service to dog owners and set a positive examples to other dog walkers.”

Residents can have their say on the proposal via the Council’s consultation pages at www.swindon.gov.uk. The consultation closes on Friday, 23 February.