Select Committee on Committee on the London Local Authorities Bill Minutes of Evidence

Evidence before the Committee (Questions 660-679)


660.  Could you see a situation where a council might have a problem with it?

(Mr Cavill) I can see where some councils would. Under those sorts of circumstances one would hope that the local authority would be helping those people who were professional walkers to walk more professionally and I think Wandsworth has tried to do that. I think our point as Petitioners is that this will not help.

661.  I was concerned when you said about the unevenness of councils to roll out the rules. What evidence have you got for that?

(Mr Cavill) The evidence is primarily due to the way in which they license kennels and catteries. The standards that councils apply from one to another between kennels and catteries I have not got here but I would be happy to provide a file full of evidence that some councils who write the licence to put dogs and cats without ever visiting and charging us and other councils who do the job essentially well and spend a lot of time making sure that the kennels and catteries are up to standard.

662.  And this applies to the councils that we are talking about that are in London?

(Mr Cavill) Well, yes, it does. There is a council in London that issues licences illegally. They issue a licence for something that does not exist.

663.  JOHN ROBERTSON: What council is that?

664.  CHAIRMAN: This is not that sort of inquiry!

(Mr Cavill) Chairman, that is the subject currently of discussions between the Pet Care Trust and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, so I do promise you it is the case that it is currently being examined by the Institute because they are concerned about it.

665.  JOHN ROBERTSON: But it is just the one council?

(Mr Cavill) At this stage it is just one, but we suspect that there are more.

666.  CHAIRMAN: Could I just make one particular point. You say that this is really only because there are a few rogue dog-walkers.

(Mr Cavill) I believe so.

667.  I would advance to you that the law of this land has been devised on the basis that there is always a rogue somewhere in the system. You have human beings that commit murder, therefore, you have legislation on murder. It does not apply to the vast majority of us, but there has to be that protection, so one might argue on that basis that there needs to be protection against the rogue dog-walker. Has the idea been explored that the dog-walkers can walk as many dogs as they like, except that at any one time they will only have two or three off the lead? What would your reaction be to that?

(Mr Cavill) My reaction would be that any way in which you could encourage all dog-walkers, whether professional or otherwise, to behave professionally and to write a good code of conduct that would work and then enforce it nationally in a way that would make sure that it was not needed would be a good thing.

668.  But, as we have already heard, a code of conduct has been produced already which has not been adhered to, so if you have legislation which has that written into it, that action could be taken if there were only two or three dogs allowed off the lead and the rest have to remain on the lead. I just ask what your reaction to that would be.

(Mr Cavill) My reaction to that would be very good.

669.  Has that been explored?

(Mr Cavill) It is being explored at the moment. I am currently writing a series of codes of conduct for various aspects of the vet industry.

670.  But this has not been explored with the Promoters of this Bill?

(Mr Cavill) No, it has not, that is true.

671.  I am ahead of my time then!

(Mr Cavill) Yes, you are.

672.  MR MUNDY: I have no questions.

673.  JIM SHERIDAN: You are off the leash!

The witness withdrew


Examined by MR MUNDY

674.  MR MUNDY: You are Caroline Rosemary Kisko?

(Mrs Kisko) Correct.

675.  Could you explain your role at the Kennel Club?

(Mrs Kisko) Yes, I am secretary of the Kennel Club. I have been involved in the pet care industry for 25 years and I have worked with the Kennel Club since 1998. I have also owned dogs all my life. I am a joint owner of boarding kennels and I know a great deal about packs and pack management as a multiple dog-owner myself. I also grew up in a dog-knowledgeable household since both of my parents are vets.

676.  Could you please give the Committee a brief explanation of the role that the Kennel Club plays in this context?

(Mrs Kisko) Yes, certainly. The Kennel Club has a very wide-ranging remit in relation to dogs. We are there to protect and promote the dogs' many roles in society and we provide a broad array of services to customers, including registration of dogs, the licensing of canine events, the organisation of events, such as Crufts, the running of the Good Citizen Dog Scheme which is in fact the largest dog training and human training scheme for owning dogs and responsible ownership in the UK, and we also have a charitable trust. The Kennel Club is seen as being the first port of call on all dog-related issues and sits on parliamentary groups such as the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare. It also, as David has pointed out, provides the secretariat for the Dog Legislation Advisory Group which includes the RSPCA, the NCDL and veterinary organisations and the Group meets to discuss existing and proposed legislation affecting canines.

677.  And as part of that does it make representations to Parliament?

(Mrs Kisko) Yes.

678.  Could you explain to the Committee in summary the principal points of concern that the Kennel Club has in relation to clause 14?

(Mrs Kisko) Our concerns focus primarily on the impact that the proposals might have on the private dog-owner and how the proposed legislation, whilst it appears to be aimed particularly at professional dog-walkers, is likely to interfere with responsible private owners, not just as owners walking their own dogs and maybe needing to be licensed, but also because the private owner is in fact a resident of the borough in question, or may be, and will be affected not only by the fact that a professional dog-walker might be restricted, but also will see their charges going up.

679.  You also mentioned, I think, a number of animal welfare issues specifically. Could you explain what they are?

(Mrs Kisko) As with the Pet Care Trust, we do believe that there are some serious concerns in terms of the welfare of dog-owners in that they will not necessarily be walked as often or as far as at present. If the professional dog-walker, and here I do agree with the Pet Care Trust, had to keep dogs on the lead, but was able to keep a certain number of dogs off the lead, then that would possibly answer the problem, but, on the other hand, if he is going to be limited as to how many parks he may walk in, then obviously he is going to find it much more expensive to actually walk those dogs and will have to pass those charges on and, therefore, reduce the number of dogs he walks.

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