A WOMAN who looks after dogs for the health benefits is calling for a change in the dog boarding licence system.
Helen Hunter cares for a few dogs each year at her home in Southsea but feels the current system does not function properly.
The 57-year-old said: ‘My husband and I love dogs but we can’t commit to having our own because of health problems and we also like the freedom of being able to go away at the weekend.
‘I was diagnosed with cancer last year and so we only looked after four dogs last year due to my radiotherapy but when we do have them I find they are good for my anxiety.
‘Having the dogs means I can now go out of the house without my husband.’
The pair collect £10 a day from dog owners to look after their pets.
‘For us it is not about the money and I find the dogs beneficial for my health but the licence fee has vastly increased.
‘The system is unfair on people like us who only look after dogs sometimes rather than a business that rakes in the cash.’
Helen has been looking after dogs for three years and first paid £55 but this year received a bill for over triple that amount.
She said: ‘The licence fee this year is £175 and I am not really sure what I am paying for.
‘I understand for bigger businesses that £175 is not much but for us we only look after a few dogs a year so I think there needs to be a stepped system.
‘There was talk of a pro rata system which I think would be much better and much fairer but that has not got anywhere.’
Helen added: ‘Dog walkers and people who look after dogs until 11pm at night don’t have to be licensed and pay this fee but can earn much more than we do.
‘When I told my friend, who has her dog walked by someone else, she was shocked that any Tom, Dick or Harry could just start up a dog-walking business.
‘I have also been told the majority of dog welfare calls come from these people who walk dogs and are not licensed.’
Environmental health team leader at Portsmouth City Council Steve Bell said: ‘The current licence fees were agreed by Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet, however we’ll be exploring with the cabinet members if there is scope to revisit the fee level in the new year.’