Four-dog walking limit planned for Darlington

Image caption,
The order would mean a £100 fine for one person walking more than four dogs

People who walk more than four dogs at a time in Darlington could be fined, council bosses have warned.

The move is being considered after concerns from some pet owners over the safety of "packs of dogs", the borough council said.

A recent meeting heard from one woman whose pet was attacked by seven dogs being walked by one person.

If a consultation backs the proposal, anyone walking more than four dogs could face a £100 fixed penalty fine.

If they fail to pay, court action would be taken, the Darlington Borough Council added.

The authority is planning to introduce a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which allows councils extra powers to combat a specific nuisance.

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

'Serious issue'

But he said existing dog control orders only tackle issues such as owners not picking up faeces or failing to keep dogs on leads.

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 and have a coherent strategy that is based around education and improvement rather than just creating fixed penalty notices which will alienate the community overall."

Jenna Tempest, of K9 Companions, said 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.

Similar fines are in place in other areas including Oxford and Gosport in Hampshire.

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