The business of dog walkers disturbs the tranquility of the Ile-de-France forests

By Carla Butting

Published today at 07:00, updated at 07:00

“I’m coming, I’m going to get Django! » Indiana Jayet slams the door of her van, which she has just stopped in double file in an upscale street in Versailles (Yvelines) and rushes behind a glass and wrought iron door. A few moments later, the young woman reappears, a cavalier king-charles on the end of a leash. It is one of the nine dogs that this “professional walker” is about to take on this Friday morning in April to the forest of Fausses-Reposes, a few kilometers west of Paris, for a one-hour walk. hour and a half to two hours.

Under her fuchsia pink T-shirt, the 30-year-old has put on a harness that allows her to attach the dozen leashes she always carries with her. A former veterinary assistant, Indiana is convinced that her profession is “fundamental for the well-being of dogs”. For her, canines have “need to sniff, socialize, explore”.

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Indiana Jayet walks the dogs in groups of four.  When a walker passes, she moves out of the way with her pack.  Fausses-Reposes national forest in Ville-d'Avray (Yvelines), April 15, 2022.
The dogs come out of their transport cage, ready to go for a walk.  Ville-d'Avray (Yvelines), April 15, 2022.

Indiana only works with Versailles dogs. “I don’t want them to do more driving than walking, and I limit the number of dogs”, she explains. Self-employed since 2015, she lives in a house in Normandy, 70 kilometers away, where she has also opened a canine boarding house. On weekday mornings, she picks up her ” clients “ one after the other in the truck, air conditioning on full “so that they are well”before taking the direction of the Bois de Fausses-Reposes.

Every day, dozens – maybe even hundreds – of dog sitters as they crisscross Ile-de-France with their vans to pick up dogs from their owners before unloading them in the region’s forest car parks. Difficult to identify, some work without being declared, others operate under the status of autoentrepreneur or are employees.

Between 20 and 40 euros per walk

Owners who use their services pay between 20 and 40 euros per walk for their dog. A lucrative business, which ends up disturbing the tranquility of the forest. “We can’t say that everyone is irreproachable, recognizes Indiana, I have already seen walkers unable to manage their group. »

Michoko, a border collie, takes a bath in stagnant water in the Fausses-Reposes forest, in Ville-d'Avray (Yvelines), on April 15, 2022.

From April 15 to June 30, when mammals nest and give birth, the Environmental Code prohibits walkers – individuals or professionals – from letting their animals roam off the trails and at the edge of water points. Once in the forest, the dog sitter unleash his pack, which has “need to let off steam”, but keeping it in theory “at a good distance”a hundred meters maximum.

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