Dog board­ing busi­ness own­ers fu­ri­ous over fee

Same an­nual li­cence charge to ap­ply across in­dus­try

Lennox Herald - - NEWS - Marc McLean

Dog board­ing busi­ness own­ers have un­leashed their fury over pro­posed new coun­cil charges.

West Dun­bar­ton­shire Coun­cil in­tends on bring­ing home dog board­ers and com­mer­cial day board­ing into line with ken­nels by hit­ting them with a £335 an­nual li­cence fee.

This fig­ure is more than THREE times what most other Scot­tish coun­cils charge as the na­tional av­er­age is just £104.

Four dog board­ing busi­ness own­ers at­tended the coun­cil’s li­cens­ing com­mit­tee last week to speak out about the costs and sev­eral other “ridicu­lous” rules coun­cil chiefs plan to in­tro­duce.

All wel­comed proper reg­u­la­tion of the in­dus­try, but snapped over dis­par­ity between board­ers and ken­nels and that dog walk­ing busi­nesses are ex­cluded.

Alexan­dria man Ian Fisher, of Lomond Home and Pet Care, crit­i­cised the plans at the li­cens­ing com­mit­tee.

The 64-year-old, who has ran his dog board­ing busi­ness for 17 years, said: “The fee is ridicu­lously un­fair con­sid­er­ing our in­come.

“Our max­i­mum is only four dogs at a time, while some ken­nels have 10, 20, 30 or 40.

“It’s like ask­ing some­one in a corner shop to pay the same as Asda or Mor­risons.

“We are fully in favour of leg­is­la­tion and the home board­ing li­cence in gen­eral. But it’s the costs and we are con­cerned there’s noth­ing re­gard­ing dog walk­ers who cause the most prob­lems.”

Ian’s busi­ness runs in part­ner­ship with Daniel Mur­ray, who also boards a small num­ber of dogs at his home in High Over­toun, Dum­bar­ton.

Daniel’s wife Cather­ine at­tended the li­cens­ing com­mit­tee and said: “In re­la­tion to the costs it should be pointed out that the av­er­age in Scot­land is £104 and West Dun­bar­ton­shire Coun­cil is look­ing for £335.

“That’s a mas­sive dif­fer­ence. Where are you get­ting that fig­ure from?

“We have limited places and only board up to four dogs, and some­times that’s not even prac­ti­cal be­cause of the dogs we are board­ing.”

Coun­cil chiefs also in­tend on in­tro­duce a rule that all dogs aged over six months must be neutered, which is fiercely op­posed.

Cather­ine Mur­ray said: “We just can’t un­der­stand why that clause is in there. It’s not com­mon sense. It’s not prac­ti­cal.

“We sup­port the neu­ter­ing of dogs but there are a wide va­ri­ety of rea­sons why some dogs are not neutered, such as show dogs.

“Where are those dogs go­ing to go? Why dis­crim­i­nate against their own­ers?”

Coun­cil worker Heather Wil­liamson also runs a small dog board­ing busi­ness and at­tended last week’s li­cens­ing com­mit­tee to raise con­cerns.

She said: “I’m fairly new to this busi­ness and bring dogs into my home so they don’t have to go to ken­nels.

“I only charge £15 per day which in­cludes an overnight stay – so I would have to take in a lot of dogs for 24 hours to meet this un­fair li­cence fee.”

Coun­cil of­fi­cer Martin Kee­ley said: “Cur­rently peo­ple who have ken­nels pay the fee and op­er­ate the busi­ness.

“They are com­pet­ing with busi­nesses that are un­reg­u­lated, that don’t pay the fee, or have a li­cence.

“Keep­ing un-neutered dogs at home as a day boarder is a safety is­sue raised by the na­tional board.”

Coun­cil le­gal of­fi­cer Ray­mond Lynch ex­plained that the £335 fee was set in 2014 but that the coun­cil is lis­ten­ing to the con­cerns of dog board­ing busi­ness own­ers.

The coun­cil ran a short con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod with dog board­ing busi­ness own­ers, but it was crit­i­cised for not last­ing long enough or reach­ing enough peo­ple op­er­at­ing this type of busi­ness across the area.

Coun­cil­lors agreed to go out to con­sul­ta­tion over the pro­posed changes and a re­port will be brought to the li­cens­ing com­mit­tee in April 2017. A He­lens­burgh man who has been con­victed of van­dal­is­ing cars was granted a tem­po­rary taxi driver’s li­cence last week.

Gra­ham Bell ap­plied to West Dun­bar­ton­shire Coun­cil for the li­cence on Oc­to­ber 17 and at­tended last Wed­nes­day’s li­cens­ing com­mit­tee in Cly­de­bank Town Hall.

Po­lice Scot­land sergeant An­gela Walker was also in­vited and she told the com­mit­tee how Bell was fined for van­dal­ism and breach of the peace at Dum­bar­ton Jus­tice of the Peace Court.

She ex­plained how the fa­therof-three was caught kick­ing wing mir­rors off cars parked in He­lens­burgh town cen­tre in the early hours of De­cem­ber 27, 2011. He also be­gan shout­ing and swear­ing at po­lice of­fi­cers.

Bell, of Stuck­leckie Road, was later hit with £270 in fines and a £400 com­pen­sa­tion or­der.

Coun­cil­lor Lawrence O’Neill, chair­man of the li­cens­ing com­mit­tee, asked Bell: “Why should we grant you a li­cence?”

He replied: “That in­ci­dent was to­tally out of char­ac­ter. I had been drink­ing for much of the Christ­mas pe­riod.

“Since then I’ve had three kids, I’m get­ting mar­ried next year and I’m em­bar­rassed about that in­ci­dent.

“I’m just try­ing to bet­ter my­self and pro­vide for my kids.”

Coun­cil­lors unan­i­mously agreed to grant the tem­po­rary taxi li­cence.

Dog li­cence Daniel Mur­ray and Ian Fisher run Lomond Home and Pet Care

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