Pet owners' fury over new £100 council fine plans for walking 'too many dogs'

PET owners have been left fuming over new £100 council fine plans for walking "too many dogs".

Anyone taking more than four canines for a stroll in Darlington, County Durham, could be ticketed over fears they'll lose control of their animals.

And those who refuse to pay would be hauled to court.

The plans, which are currently under consultation, follow complaints by some dog owners about "packs of dogs" roaming the streets.

One woman said her pet was attacked by seven dogs being walked by one person.

'LAST RESORT'

Jonathan Dulston, head of community safety at the council, said criminalising dog owners was an "absolute last resort".

But he said existing dog control orders only tackle issues such as owners not clearing up after their pets or walking them off leads.

The new plans – which threaten the livelihood of professional dog-walkers – would also exclude dogs from all council cemeteries.

Surely it must be better and more beneficial to work with the dog ownership community in our town.

David Gray, of Petpals Darlington – which provides various services for pets including walking, said: "Surely it must be better and more beneficial to work with the dog ownership community in our town.

"There should be a coherent strategy based around education and improvement rather than just creating fixed penalty notices which will alienate the community overall."

Jenna Tempest, of K9 Companions, said that in choosing a specific number of dogs they had "plucked a figure from thin air”.

She said that many of her clients specifically wanted their dogs to socialise and take part in group walks.

"It's a service that's hugely popular and hugely wanted across the town," she added.

A decision is due to be taken by the end of the year.

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Dog-walking has faced tougher penalties since Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) were introduced in 2014.

A walk with your pooch down the beach can land you with a £100 on the spot fine if your local council chooses to impose the penalty.

And dog walkers face a £80 fine if they're caught walking their pooch without at least two poo bags – and £1000 if they refuse to pay.

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