Bitter dog walker row ends up in court

Heather Sian Hiram of Safe and Sound Hound dog walkers.
Heather Sian Hiram of Safe and Sound Hound dog walkers.
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A BITTER row that erupted online between two rival dog walkers in the Capital has ended up in court.

Alana Mullen, of Pilrig Paws, posted a series of videos on Facebook in which she accused Heather Sian Hiram of leaving dogs in a hot van and failing to control pets.

Former solicitor Ms Hiram, 40, who runs Marchmont-based Safe and Sound Hound, denied the claims and was awarded a gagging order by the sheriff.

“I was really devastated that this happened in the first place,” Ms Hiram told the Evening News yesterday, reacting to the ruling. “I was puzzled more than anything else.”

Describing her “relief” at the court’s written undertaking, Ms Hiram confirmed she was “actively considering” suing Ms Mullen and is seeking legal advice.

The bizarre row kicked off on June 20 when Ms Mullen “ambushed” Ms Hiram on an Edinburgh street.

Ms Mullen’s videos, uploaded six days later, showed what she claimed were dogs left inside Heather’s van and “panting” as temperatures outside hit 20C.

Ms Hiram responded to the posts by adding that her van was air-conditioned and accused Ms Mullen of setting out to damage her reputation for commercial reasons.

She then took the highly unusual step, for a social media row, of going to court, with the civil case heard on Tuesday.

Ms Hiram said: “Safe & Sound Hound, together with my dog who was reactive on the walk, came back to the van early and was let back out again separately to be toileted, would sincerely like to thank those members of the public who have been equally as appalled as me at the tirade of abuse that was initiated by Alana Mullen of Pilrig Paws.

“Unfortunately others have struggled to stay dignified, jumped on an inaccurate and hateful bandwagon and shown yourselves in the worst possible light. Obviously separate legal action will follow in respect of defamation and breaches of data protection. Rest assured, all dogs in my care, big and small, challenging or otherwise, are at all times given the utmost care and attention.”

Ms Hiram was granted a written undertaking, which restricts Ms Mullen from “defaming the pursuer by making or publishing in any media, including social media and print media, of any statement that it likely to lower the 
pursuer in the estimation of right thinking members of society”.

Ms Mullen is also banned “from repeating or publishing any or all of the allegations made in the pursuer’s post on Facebook of June 26”.

The order also bans her from “publishing any statement about the pursuer or the pursuer’s business, Safe and Sound Hound, in any format or in any place”.

Ms Hiram is now considering suing Ms Mullen for defamation. She said: “It’s not really something that everyone can afford to pursue because of the legal expenses, but I hope that it can send a warning to people who consider posting things like this online.

“You can’t just do things like that and expect there will be no come back.

“I want the message to be that you don’t have to accept this behaviour. There are ways within the law to stand up for yourself.”

Attempts to contact Ms Mullen for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.