Merton Council is trying to maintain its reputation as being a dog-friendly borough despite a recent influx of professional dog walkers into Merton’s parks, sometimes with as many as 20 dogs.
On Wimbledon Common, a bylaw was recently put in place preventing more than six dogs being walked at once creating a knock-on effect on Merton’s parks and recreation grounds and also putting a strain on resources.
The existing problem would become far worse if neighbouring borough Wandsworth carries through its plan to charge dog walkers an annual fee of £400 that could force Merton into taking preventative action against a greater influx of dogwalkers.
Paul Morey, Merton’s Dog Warden said: “Since last November there has been a great increase in the use of our parks by paid dog walkers. A number of residents have complained, as they feel intimidated by the presence of several dogs being walked by only one person.
“On occasion, I have spoken to both paid dog walkers and members of the public to sort out complaints. In most cases, everyone has been co-operative, but I doubt if our resources will be able to cope with all the extra dogs if Wandsworth decides to put a fee in place.”
Merton Council’s parks department is concerned about the dog walking situation and is considering applying for a government bylaw similar to the one at Wimbledon Common that limits the amount of dogs per professional walker to six. This scheme could be difficult to put into operation, as, unlike Wandsworth, Merton does not have park police to enforce bylaws.