A DOG walker has said she is delighted to finally be able to get back to work, two months after she was forced to stop by lockdown.

Joanna Menzies, owner of Wantage-based Rambles Pet Care, was back walking her clients’ dogs on Monday.

The coronavirus lockdown in the UK has been a particularly difficult time for small businesses without premises – many of whom struggled to get standardised Government business support – and for companies dealing with animals, with concerns about their ability to catch and transmit the disease.

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However, with the reopening of ‘non-essential’ businesses finally allowed on Monday, many can now start to make a living again.

Ms Menzies said: “After a concerning 10 weeks, we are thrilled to open again and be reunited with all our dogs.

“And as more people head back to work, it means we are available to care for those pets who have become used to having their families at home all day.”

Because Ms Menzies is a director of Rambles she was able to take advantage of the Government's furlough scheme to get 80 per cent of her normal salary.

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However, this was still less than 20 per cent of the business's normal income.

Also, because the business does not have a premises and does not pay business rates, it was not eligible for any of the Government grants for small businesses, though Ms Menzies has applied for a small grant from Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) and is waiting to hear back.

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As it gets back to work, Rambles has had to put rigorous new health and safety measures in place to protect both staff and clients.

Ms Menzies said: “In order to re-open Rambles safely, we’ve made many changes to the way we work, including strictly using our own leads and equipment, alongside lots of hand washing and disinfecting between jobs.”

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Ms Menzies grew up in Wantage and went to the town’s King Alfred’s secondary school.

After university she worked in London for several years, but then decided to have a change of pace and moved back to Wantage and launched Rambles in 2016.

As well as dog walking, the business also offers home care for pets.

When the coronavirus pandemic started, pet care businesses were some of the worst hit.

Among the first problems was the fear that pets could catch and transmit the virus.

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In the case of dogs, although one dog in Hong Kong did test positive for the virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has since said there is no evidence dogs can suffer from the disease in the same way as humans, and there is no evidence they can transmit it.

In the case of cats, some have been recorded as infected with the virus, but scientists said it is unlikely that cats could transmit it to humans.

The RSPCA has said: "If walking dogs from an infected or vulnerable household, do not mix them with dogs from other households, and walk them after all other dogs."

Ms Menzies said: “We couldn’t be happier to be back working and hope more small businesses in the area are able to open again soon.”