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

Evidence before the Committee (Questions 680-699)


680.  And are there particular issues in relation to transporting animals?

(Mrs Kisko) Yes, we do have a problem in that if the professional dog-walker is actually unable to obtain a licence in the area that he wants to exercise dogs, then he may well have to transport the dogs to a further borough and obviously that means driving his car and moving them about as necessary.

681.  Again you have mentioned, and it is the Kennel Club's principal concern, the impact of the provisions on private dog-owners. Would you like just to expand on that.

(Mrs Kisko) We do not actually see the logic in the argument, as the Chairman has rightly pointed out, regarding the number of dogs. The numbers are actually irrelevant because somebody that is walking twelve small dogs may easily be able to control them, whereas someone with two very large dogs might find them difficult to control, so this four to five dogs is actually irrelevant. In fact in her letter Sarah Gladstone actually quotes that the majority of dog-walkers might be walking anything up to a maximum of six dogs with no problem, so again we have this worry that the number of dogs is not the most relevant point.

682.  Could you please comment upon this question about the number of licences which may be available and the potential limitation?

(Mrs Kisko) Yes, obviously we are concerned in terms of the number of licences which might be available. It is not actually clear on what basis the numbers would be determined and it would be, in our view, unfair if a private owner was unable to obtain a licence because the quota had expired and I think it is fairly unlikely that a borough would be able to withdraw a licence from a professional walker simply because somebody with a number of dogs had moved into the area. Equally well, unlike professional dog-walkers, it is unlikely that a private owner who wants to be able to exercise their dogs before or after going to work would have the option of driving to another or an unlicensed borough.

683.  We spoke previously about the conditioning arrangements that are contained in Clause 14. I think you are concerned that there are a number of other factors that are not embraced in the conditioning process.

(Mrs Kisko) Certainly we are concerned about whether or not dogs are required to be kept on a lead. This, surely, must be the most important point since the pack instinct that has been referred to could apply to any number of dogs. That pack instinct, particularly if the dogs had actually dispersed across the park, would no longer be relevant because they would not actually be in a pack any more. Equally well, if they are all on a lead they know they are under control. They would then definitely be under control. Equally well, any type of lead or restraint that ought to be used has not been spoken about and neither has either the experience or age of the owner been mentioned.

684.  Those are all things, presumably, although they are not on the face of the Bill, that may be covered as part of the condition.

(Mrs Kisko) One would think so.

685.  Are you confident that the right people are going to be able to deploy those skills to give effect to what are quite detailed provisions with regard to the care of animals?

(Mrs Kisko) Certainly if we were talking about Wandsworth, I have absolutely no problem with Wandsworth or anything that they are doing. The Kennel Club works extremely closely with Wandsworth, particularly on the Good Citizen Dog Scheme and in a lot of other areas. However, for other boroughs the suggestion was made that if other boroughs wanted to bring this into force they would train somebody up to bring in those conditions, but it actually is a very specialised area. Wandsworth have developed their dog skills, their dog expertise, over very many years, so to simply say "We will now have dog experts" is not actually going to be that simple. On the other hand, it would be very straightforward simply to say "Okay, we are going to license people from now on the basis of no knowledge."

686.  MR MUNDY: Thank you very much.

Cross-examined by MR CLARKSON

687.  MR CLARKSON: I am going to ask, in a minute, about some of the letters, so I will ask you some preliminary questions but can we make sure that in due course the bundle of letters arrives in front you? I am going to ask you the same question, please. The Kennel Club - it is self-evident what they are - their beneficiary?

(Mrs Kisko) Dog owners. All dog owners and all dogs.

688.  The one that cannot speak for itself is dogs.

(Mrs Kisko) Yes.

689.  What is the mischief as far as the dogs are concerned if this Bill goes forward?

(Mrs Kisko) In our view, a reduction in the amount of exercise that owners will be prepared to pay for.

690.  Be prepared to pay for, did you say?

(Mrs Kisko) Or that the dog will receive. We have heard about a possible £25 fee for Wandsworth but as David pointed out it could very easily be that the fee might be substantially higher in some boroughs and that cost is, inevitably, going to be passed on to the owners. There will be owners who will not want to pay for their dogs to be walked.

691.  As a philosophy of approach of the Kennel Club, is it appropriate in broad terms to encourage people to own dogs if they are unable to be responsible for their exercise one way or another?

(Mrs Kisko) No, absolutely not.

692.  It would be also undesirable, would it not, if the system was to encourage dog ownership but only exercise is undertaken by professional dog-walkers who are incompetent?

(Mrs Kisko) Of course. But I think you will find that many dog owners, because they love their dogs and they want to make sure that they (a) get sufficient exercise and that it is done properly, will check out the credentials of the dog-walker before they hand their dogs over.

693.  In the ideal world.

(Mrs Kisko) No, I think actually in the real world.

694.  Does the Kennel Club have an identification of the professional dog-walkers? Is there any code of practice or corporate structure?

(Mrs Kisko) No, at the present time we do not but we are addressing the issue, as David pointed out, along with the Pet Care Trust.

695.  To be fair to you, I think you have made it quite clear to the Committee how important it is that dogs are on a lead, on this scale of dog-walking.

(Mrs Kisko) Yes, are under control.

696.  I think you said that you want dogs on a lead.

(Mrs Kisko) We would prefer that in those circumstances that the majority of dogs would be on a lead.

697.  Why?

(Mrs Kisko) To ensure that they are fully under control at all times and to make sure that they cannot go rushing off. David described the elasticated lead, which is not actually there, beyond which point a dog will simply head off across the park. If those dogs are all on a lead where is the problem? That problem is not addressed at all in the proposed Bill.

698.  It could, of course, be a condition of the licence that they be on a lead. One of the fundamental bases of promoting the legislation is that multiple dog-walkers are under control

(Mrs Kisko) Yes, but I would say that that is equally applicable to the private dog owner. I have had the misfortune, and I know colleagues have had the misfortune, of being faced with a single dog owned by a single owner which is completely out of control and which they cannot get back. I would say, as a professional dog-walker, that a dog-walker should be acting professionally by making sure that he can control directly all the dogs under his care.

699.  You are pushing at an open door and there is consensus on that. If everybody acted perfectly we would not need legislation. Just help me with this: it is not a wholly facile question but I just want to get quite clear what is the Kennel Club's view. As a generality, is it easier to control one to four dogs than it is to control five plus dogs?

(Mrs Kisko) No, it depends entirely on the breed. Entirely.

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