Batley dog owner sets up Facebook group to help keep people and their pets safe
A group of dog walkers have joined forces to keep each other safe when out with their pets.
Reports of people being watched or approached by suspected dog thieves have left some too scared to go out alone.
Now dog owner Gail Goor, 46, of Batley, has set up a Facebook group to help keep people and their pets safe.
The group – called Wags and Walks – has only been going just over a month but has more than 300 members covering Batley, Spen and Mirfield.
The idea is people ask in the group if others want to go out for a walk in a specific area and members then message each other privately to arrange a time and place to meet. They then text or message each other afterwards to say they have got home safely.
Gail said: “I’ve been sick of reading about people saying they didn’t feel safe to go out with their dogs so I wanted to do something to keep people and their dogs safe and protected.
“It was a spur of the moment idea to set up the group but in no time there were 150 members and I was amazed.”
Gail said there was one member of the group who had been too scared to go out after she had been followed home from Batley Park.
“The group has helped her get out again," Gail said. "No-one should feel anxious when they are out because the dog picks up on that and they feel anxious too.”
Since lockdown, reports of dog thefts and intimidation have risen. More families have bought dogs during the pandemic as more people have been staying home. As a result dogs have become more valuable and specific breeds are harder to find.
Gail, who has a Jack Russell-Lancashire Heeler cross called Oska and a rescued lurcher cross called Bronte, said she didn’t know whether dogs were being stolen for breeding, re-sale or fighting or a combination but added: “It’s awful to think what could happen to our dogs. I don’t want to get inside the minds of these people.”
The group is looking to have hoodies and T-shirts printed and want to be visible on the streets.
“We want to be a deterrent and make our dogs too hot to handle,” said Gail.