Blackpool dog walkers fear controversial new control plans will put them out of business
Lisa Page, who has been a dog walker for 25 years, said the changes would leave her unable to make a living from her work.
Lisa, whose business is her sole income, says: “If I can only take four dogs in a van, by the time I have paid taxes, insurance and private insurance, unless I start charging astronomical prices, I am not making any profit at all.
“How can Blackpool Council say they welcome responsible dog owners, when they’re proposing dog exclusion areas and not giving us anywhere left to walk and exercise our dog, then enforcing strict limits on dog numbers to four at a time.
“How can they pride themselves on having a long standing reputation for creating entrepreneurs, people with bright ideas who are prepared to work hard and turn them into a viable business, when these rules will prevent professional dog walkers, myself included, from doing their job?”
The council is not proposing any new dog exclusion areas, although there are currently places where the animals are banned –such as children’s play areas.
If enacted, the new public spaces protection order would create new areas where dogs must be kept on a lead at all times and give council officers the power to force owners to put pets on a lead anywhere in Blackpool.
Lisa added: “I have been walking dogs and have had a loyal customer base for over 25 years and in this time have never lost control of my dogs, am considerate to other walkers and users of the areas I walk in and even pick up after the few dog owners and supposed professional walkers who clearly do not care or are unable to keep their dogs under control.
“No amount of rules will prevent the inconsiderate and inadequate dog walkers and owners from creating a nuisance or a mess.
“The ‘no fouling’ signs, which have been in place for decades, are testament to this.”
Sarah Bentley, 40, who has had her own dog walking business The Bone Rangers on Westwood Avenue in Blackpool for five years, says: “I don’t think they need to be so heavy-handed.
“I think they are proposing to penalise the masses.
“It’s a few who are not picking up the poo and having unruly dogs off leads.
“I walk six dogs at a time and if I have to reduce it to four I may as well quit.”
She said the council wants to encourage business but she fears many others could be put out of work as a result of the proposals.
Sarah added: “Lytham is doing well by opening cafes and shops that are dog friendly and they could be the leaders.
“People will stop coming to Blackpool and lots of little shops will close.”
Sue Parkinson-Hayward, 46, who has her own dog walking business Wooftidoos in Blackpool, agreed the measures would put people out of business.
She said: “I may not have a business if a four dog rule goes through.
“I only walk five to six dogs in the morning and three of those are my own.
“If I have to reduce the amount of dogs I can walk I will have to sign on.
“It is also not fair to keep two dogs on the lead and let the other two off.
“The ones on the leads will think they have done something wrong and will be going crazy trying to get to the dogs who are running around.”
Sue said if she has to cut back on which dogs she walks it will affect some of her elderly and disabled clients who use her services for just a few hours each week.
She says: “Some of my clients are elderly or disabled and can’t walk their own dogs on their own.
“But they can only afford for me to walk them once or twice a week.
“I would have to stop walking these dogs if I have to cut back and these are the dogs that then won’t get a walk at all.
“This will affect their behaviour and it will become harder for their owners to look after them.
“It has a massive knock on effect.”
And she said she is confused why the stretch of land by the Village Hotel is going to allow dogs on leads only, adding: “It is perfect for dogs and there is no reason in my opinion.
“The council are making it so dog unfriendly it is untrue.”
Wendy Ashworth, 39, who is the managing director of Walkies and has five employees, said buying her own plot of land means she won’t be affected as badly as other walkers.
But she said it appears everyone is going to be penalised for the irresponsible few.
She added: “These laws have been coming for a while.
“It’s going to happen and the council gets what the council wants so there is no point kicking off about it.
“The most sensible thing is to ask for dog walks.”
A Blackpool Council said: “No decisions have been made as yet, so we are keen for as many people as possible to get involved in the consultation.
“Please take this opportunity to put your opinions and thoughts forward by completing the consultation.
“The consultation period will run until September 25.”