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Dog-walking service

April 8, 2020

Heather Hiram, of the Safe and Sound Hound dog-walking service in Edinburgh, was furious after a video was posted by Alana Mullen, who was working for Pilrig Paws.

A professional dog walker has been awarded £3,000 in damages from a business rival who accused her on social media of mistreating the animals.

Heather Hiram, 41, who runs the Safe and Sound Hound dog-walking service in Edinburgh, was furious after a video was posted by Alana Mullen, who was working for Pilrig Paws. The pair did not know each other but walked pets in the capital’s Pilrig Park. The video appeared to show dogs inside a van panting as temperatures outside reached 20C.

Ms Mullen, 30, also claimed to have “caught and confronted” the other dog walker, accusing her of “not being able to control” the pets. Former solicitor Heather insisted her vehicle had air conditioning, cooling mats and open windows and she demanded the video be removed but that request was ignored.

The clips, posted in June 2018, showed Mullen and a friend confronting Heather and were shared more than 1500 times, racking up 37,000 views and attracting dozens of critical comments.

Heather launched a defamation action for £5000 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, saying that she had been deliberately targeted and the video led to a deterioration in her business by losing clients.

She said she had spent £4000 transforming her van and it was the same system used by the SSPCA.

Mullen claimed the statements in the video were true but Sheriff Adrian Cottam ordered her to hand over £3000 and make a public apology.

“Clearly the reputation of a dog walker would be lowered in the opinion of any right-minded person reading it.

“In fact, the comments posted showed the feeling of repulsion and rage against the pursuer.

“The main issue was the risk posed to the dogs. Here, I preferred the evidence of the pursuer with regard to the modifications made and the fact the adaptations took away the usual risk of dogs in hot cars.

“To post comments implying the risk of the temperature and comments and video relating to the harm that could be caused is clearly defamatory if in fact the dogs had not been left in a situation where such risk arose.

“I am therefore satisfied that the pursuer has successfully pled her case and I find in her favour.”

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