It takes a lot of trust as a pet owner to give someone that you might not know a key to your home, let them know when you will be out of your house and let them have access to your four legged pride and joy! So how do you know what you are opening yourself up to and how can you minimise the risks?
With the large array of dog walkers and pet sitters available the choice is vast and can be a bit of a minefield as to who to choose. Top priorities in choosing a dog walker or pet sitter that you don’t know might include:-
1. They should always have insurance. This should include for all pet services that they are offering, insurance to cover the loss or injury to your pet in their care, key and lock insurance and third party insurance. Most insurance companies only cover for six dogs to be walked at any one time, ensure your dog walker sticks to this number for your dogs welfare as well as the insurance risk.
2. They should have a DBS check. This is the new form of CRB check to prove that they do not have any criminal records or burglary.
3. They should be able to provide references from other clients.
4. If they are visiting your home when you are not there you should ensure they are providing a discrete visiting service. You should consider carefully if choosing a pet siting service which arrives at your home in a liveried vehicle. There are many many horror stories of homes being broken into if the vehicle is being followed, your dog may also be at risk from theft if travelling in a marked sign-written van. It is a well known fact that more often than not dog walkers are usually visiting house which are unoccupied. They even remove the guard dog for an hour or so!
5. You should ensure that your dog is not left unattended in a vehicle for any period of time. If your dog is walked in a big group what is happening to your dog whilst the pet sitter is collecting and delivering all of the other dogs on the walk? I the summer they may get overheated within minutes if left in a non- temperature controlled vehicle. If they are not securely separated then this could lead to unsupervised, confined conflict between dogs.
Dog Poo! An ongoing problem affecting public spaces in the UK, it is horrible to see it lying on the ground but even worse to step in. It is estimated that dogs in the UK produce around 1000 tonnes of dog poo per day, equivalent of roughly half an olympic sized swimming pool. That is A LOT of poo. Imagine the environment in which we would live if no one picked up dogs in their care’s waste! If dog faeces is not picked up and disposed of appropriately it can be harmful to people and the environment. Dog poo contains numerous different parasites and harmful bacteria including:-
- Hookworms – these can cause respiratory symptoms in human once the hookworm larvae have reached the lungs, diarrhoea, fatigue and blood loss.
- Ringworms – symptoms of infection in humans include vary between a red, irritated ring on the skin to blisters and pus-filled sores around the rings.
- Tapeworms – symptoms of infection in humans include abdomen pain, vomitting, diarrhoea, dizziness, malnutrition and jaundice.
- Salmonella – symptoms of infection in humans include Vomitting, diarrhoea, fever and headache
- E.coli – common symptoms in humans include sever stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting. It can cause serious blood and kidney problems which can lead to kidney failure, long-term disability or death in some children and older adults.
- Fecal coliform bacterial – symptoms in humans include diarroah, vomitting and sever dehydration.
Local authorities are estimated to spend £22 million per year on trying to combat the problem of dog waste. In many areas it does not seem to be working so if more funding is available in local authorities does dog waste collection need to be a priority or is investing in local health services, housing and education more important? Imagine if dog waste was not an issue, everyone collected it and disposed of it appropriately and an extra £22 million could be redirected somewhere else within the local communities.
Dog Poo and the Law!
You can now be given an on the spot fine between £50 and £80 (depending on the local authority) if you do not clean up after your dog. Refusal to pay the fine can lead to you being taken to court and fined up to £1000. Some local authorities are striker and now fine if you are not carrying a poo bag if you are out walking your dog.
What has been tried to combat the problem?
Increasing the number of dog poo bins available is one way which has had success but some local authorities have tried more radical solutions to the problem including:-
- Spraying the poo and bright colour to highlight it all to inconsiderate dog owners and walkers.
- Little flags have been placed on top of piles of poo.
- A tree was decorated with all of the poo-filled plastic bags that had been flung into the hedges and grass.
- Volunteers identified dog owners and they were named and shamed.
- The Bis Scoop! A campaign run by the Dogs Trust to get public support to help combat the problem.
- A Poover – a hoover developed to suck up the dog poo.
- A dog warden stake out! Where they catch irresponsible owners in the act.
- DNA testing to identify the owners of the dogs.
- Banning dogs from public places.