Busy lifestyles and longer hours are leading to a business boom in the number of professional dog-walkers taking the nation's 6.5 million pet pooches walkies,' according to online small business insurer, Insurantz.com.
Even during the credit crunch, Britain remains a nation of pet-lovers willing to spend on their pet pooches, but with time at a premium in a country which works the longest hours in Europe, many budding British entrepreneurs are seeing the business opportunity for pet lovers. Specialist dog-walking businesses and earn upwards of GBP8.00 per dog for a one hour walk.
The industry of professional pet sitting, which includes dog walking, is now one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial endeavours in the UK with the National Association of Registered Petsitters (NARP) reporting a 59% increase in demand in 2008. The market for dog-walkers has already seen exponential growth in the US, with one such business in Philadelphia grossing $650,000 last year.
The rewards may be great, but Insurantz believes many independent dog-walkers are putting themselves at risk by failing to get adequate cover for their business. In particular, all professional dog-walkers should have public liability insurance in the event a dog causes injury or damage to property while in their care.
James Pickering, Managing Director of Insurantz, commented: "Professional dog-walkers are still a fairly new phenomenon in the UK, so there's a tendency for people not to treat it in the same way as other more established professions. The reality is that dog-walkers face the same, if not greater risk as any other business and need to ensure they have adequate cover to protect them if the worst happens."
Phil Taylor of the National Association of Registered Petsitters added: "We insist that all of our members have public liability cover, but there's still some work to be done to educate the industry that setting up business requires more than a sturdy pair of shoes and a few flyers.
"We see a fair number of claims for dogs injured in fights with other dogs, and a number of our members have had to make a claim because a dog has injured another person while in their charge. Without adequate cover, these people could have faced legal bills rising into thousands of pounds."