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Industry reacts to RSPCA’s cost-cutting advice

Dog professionals have hit back at RSPCA advice for pet owners to “ditch pet sitters” as a way to cut costs.

Katy from Thea’s Lakeland Walks told TCT: “It’s all well and good asking for a friend or neighbour to look after your dog, but what happens if your dog gets injured? What if they injure another dog or someone’s property? What if the dog goes missing?”

“Should the friend or neighbour not be available, what then? Is the dog left alone all day they may start to display behaviours such as anxiety, separation anxiety or destructive behaviours because they’re bored. They may become harder to manage on walks because they have so much pent-up energy,” she added.

ABTC-accredited trainer Charlotte Kasner shared the sentiment, noting: “While we have a largely unregulated industry and the laws that do exist are not policed, we will continue to suffer from dog walkers who don’t know anything about canine behaviour or training and owners who use unlicensed boarding, never mind the RSPCA recommending they use anyone.

“How on earth they think that mixing low quality food improves behaviour, never mind nutrition is beyond me and don’t get me started on advising owners to look at free online resource instead of using professional trainers and behaviourists,” she added.

Scott from Charlie & Friends tweeted: “You clearly didn’t spare a thought for businesses in the industry when you put this advice out RSPCA.”

Meanwhile, the sector’s trade bodies have also reacted to the advice. A representative for the National Association for Pet Sitters & Dog Walkers (NARPS) told TCT: “NarpsUK fully supports the RSPCA in their work and we agree that many people are feeling the effects of prices rises and pet care is an area that some pet owners can possibly make cutbacks.

“There are ways to cut costs when it comes to pet care without eliminating it completely. If owners have a friend or relative who can help, this is a great option, but many owners do not have this available to them. However, there are ways to keep costs lower by swapping from one-to-one walks to group walks or by using a pop-in service instead of a daycare centre.

“Our recommendation to our members is to look at the services they offer to see if there is space for lower cost options. If a dog owner can walk their dog themselves before or after work then a 15-minute pop-in service could be a low-cost alternative to a one-hour walk, and this would mean the dog has interaction during the day, and a chance for a toilet break.

“Many industries change during a recession and fortunately the pet sitting and dog walking industry is flexible enough to mean that our members can adapt their businesses to fit their client’s needs,” the statement concluded.

Additionally, the Professional Dog Walkers Association told TCT that it has contacted the RSPCA and “await their response”.

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