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Dog owners in Brighton & Hove are being urged to check the credentials of dog walking companies after a young bulldog was mauled to death in the back of a van
Harry, a two year old French bulldog, died after an incident between three dogs left unrestrained while the van was parked.
Harry's devastated owner had employed the Brighton firm to walk her dog while she was at work.
The city's Animal Welfare Officers attempted to prosecute the owner of the company but the case was dropped due to a lack of national regulations surrounding the transportation of animals by dog walking firms.
Disappointed with the outcome of the case, the officers are calling for proper guidelines for dog walking firms.
Animal Welfare Officer Stephanie Williams said: "We feel very strongly that there should be national legislation around the transportation of animals by dog walking firms. At present, dog walkers can carry any number of dogs unrestrained in the back of their vehicles"
Following the case, the council has re-launched its voluntary Professional Dog Walking Scheme, which invites owners of dog walking companies to register with the council and sign up to a code of conduct. The council was the first local authority in the country to introduce such a scheme in 2009, and currently more than 50 businesses have signed up.
"But we know there are many more businesses which haven't yet registered so we are inviting them to get in touch," said Stephanie.
"We would also advise dog owners looking for a dog walking service to ask if the business has registered with us and passed our inspections."
Businesses wishing to join the council scheme are invited to undergo an inspection of any vehicles used to transport animals, to provide insurance information, to familiarise themselves with legislation around the dog control in the city and to sign up to a code of conduct.
"To join the scheme, companies must ensure that dogs are secured whilst being transported whether that is by way of individual cages or other means of restraint," said Stephanie.
Companies passing the inspection are awarded a Professional Dog Walkers Scheme accreditation and are listed on the council's website.
Councillor Pete West, Cabinet Member for the Environment said: "Dog walking is big business in Brighton & Hove and the number of businesses setting up in the city has grown rapidly as owners return to work or work longer hours.
"We want to help ensure that resident's pets are in safe hands, and our Professional Dog Walkers Scheme will help to promote reputable companies in the city.
"We've already had a good response from businesses keen to get the council?s seal of approval and we look forward to welcoming many more."
Dog walking companies can find out more by contacting the animal welfare team on 292483, 293299, 292445 or 293279.