In the UK, with more people adopting dogs during lockdown, the number of dog walkers has increased. This 'profession' is totally unregulated, anyone can set up as a dog walker which can have disastrous results, as happened last week (Jan 2023) in Caterham, Surrey, where a dog walker was walking 8 dogs at the same time.
Reports state that the 8 dogs included 2 daschund, a cockapoo (mongrel by any other name!) collie and a Leonberger, none of the breeds on the Dangerous Dogs list. What a contrast between the dogs, and most of them were from different households. Personally, I fail to see how one person can walk 8 dogs of such a diverse range in size and temperament. Add to this, the woman was walking them on a public common, rather than in an enclosed area or on a private field.
One of the problems which has arisen, especially since lockdown finished, is many people walking their dogs off lead, which again I personally find really annoying as my Podenca Rosie is a nervous dog and our other Podenco is blind so can't even see another dog approaching. Luckily in our area we have 2 enclosed dog parks where we can let our dogs run off lead. Most of the walks in public places near us are along river banks and most dog owners put their dogs on lead before they get to us.
Sadly a situation arose with this particular dog walker when 2 dogs off lead approached the 'gang of 8'. Understandably there was a reaction between some of the dogs with the unfortunate result of the dog walker being mauled to death. Even a bystander who went to her aid got bitten.
Naturally the Press report the story in such a way as to whip up anti feeling against dogs.
I would argue the following:
1. Local councils should implement a restriction on the number of dogs which can be walked by one person at any one time - one Council has already limited it to 4 dogs with one person, another Council to 6 dogs with one person - which I feel is still too many.
2. The dog walker had a duty of care to the owners of the dogs to look after them and ensure they came to no harm, did not get lost or injured in any way.
3. The dog walker also had a duty of care to members of the public not to walk so many dogs at the same time. Not everyone likes dogs, and a Leonberger is a strong large dog.
Whilst it is a tragedy that the dog walker died in this way, the result is that the dogs are now all in kennels whilst the Police carry out an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident. The owners have lost their dogs for the forseeable future - the investigation could take anything up to a year. And the dogs - they are the innocent victims now incarcerated away from their owners and home life, possibly stressed by being in kennels - especially a collie - which may result in a change of behaviour once they are finally - we hope - released back to their owners.
The photo above is of me with our 5 dogs, a French lurcher, 3 galgos and a small podenca in our garden. I would not have dreampt of walking these 5 dogs in an open space, even though they were all friendly and obedient.