The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act – Scottish editors please note that it came into force last month, by the way…

Despite a deliberately populist headline, the official Scottish Parliament press release on The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act (see full transcript below) has attracted absolutely no media coverage in Scotland as far as we can tell… 

We think this is a gross oversight, particularly in the wake of the horrific dog attack suffered last week by seven year old Hamilton schoolboy Jude Keir.

Perhaps the press release shouldn’t have been sent out on a Saturday – hardly a ‘hot news’ day – so the lack of coverage is hardly surprising.

This is a real shame to say the least given the fact that this groundbreaking legislation has been praised by all shades of the political spectrum in Scotland and both sides of the border. In our view, the Scottish parliament has lost a golden opportunity to raise public awareness of the new legislation and highlight the zero tolerance of dog owners who allow their animals to attack innocent people.

What we find inexplicable is that the politicians who introduced the bill and supported its progress through the Scottish Parliament did not think it was important to get their message out there and ensure that in the aftermath of Jude’s injuries, the resulting press coverage contained a detailed explanation of the Act and delivered a strong warning to all dog owners about their dog’s behaviour.

The new law, which applies to all public places and private homes now focuses on the deed and not the breed and we sincerely hope that it has the desired effect.  

 

Dog asbos can be issued from today
26/02/2011

Dog owners who allow their pets to become out of control in a public or private place could be issued with a ‘dog control notice’ from today as new legislation comes into force designed to crack down on delinquent dogs and their owners.

The changes to the law come after a Control of Dogs Bill, brought forward by Christine Grahame MSP, was voted through unanimously by the Scottish Parliament last year.

Under the new legislation action can be taken against any dog owner who permits their dog to become out of control.

The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 adopts a ‘deed not the breed’ approach in tackling irresponsible dog ownership. It also highlights the central responsibility of the dog owner in controlling behaviour. The aim is to identify out of control dogs at an early stage so that measures to change their behaviour – and that of their owners – can be implemented before any dog becomes a danger to the public.

The 2010 Act also makes a change to the existing criminal offence of allowing your dog to be dangerously out of control. This change is designed to ensure dog owners can be held to account when they fail to take control of dogs who become dangerous and attack.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

“Out of control dogs can be a real nuisance in communities across Scotland. What starts off as intimidating or antisocial behaviour can sometimes quickly turn into a potentially dangerous situation.

“The aim of this act is to nip it in the bud at an early stage so that action can be taken against dog owners who allow their pets to become out of control.

This is designed as a preventative regime and we don’t expect thousands of dog control notices to be issued every week.

“That said, irresponsible owners are being given a clear message today that their actions will not be tolerated and they now face consequences if they flout this new law.

“The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring our communities are protected from dangerous dogs, which is why we, along with all other parties, supported the measures contained in Christine Grahame’s Control of Dogs (Scotland) Bill – passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament last year.

“The provisions contained in this Act will give additional powers to local authorities to take action against out of control of dogs, help improve dog behaviour and place clear responsibilities on dog owners. We hope the implementation of this new legislation will lead to a reduction in the number of dog attacks which continue blight our communities each year.

“A dog owner has to be responsible for their dog at all times, including in their own home. This is especially important when small children are also in the home. The change to the Dangerous Dogs Act offence so a dog owner can be held criminally responsible where a dog is found to be dangerously out of control in any place is to be welcomed as this reinforces the need to be a responsible dog owner and control your dog at all times.”

Terror as dog attacks seven year old Hamilton boy at school gates

A boy of seven suffered horrific head and eye injuries in a savage dog attack outside his school yesterday.

Jude Keir was set upon by a Staffordshire bull terrier just seconds after he left the playground with pals. He went to pet the animal, which suddenly pinned him to the ground and attacked.

Last night, his parents said Jude could have been killed and they thanked hero parent Chris Hemming and a mum who managed to drag the dog off.

Dad Derek, 37, said: “If it had not been for them, my son could have lost his eye or been killed. We can’t thank them enough.

2″Jude was pinned down and screaming. We know we have been very lucky. The hospital had a worry with his eyelid being totally split, but we are hoping he can make a full recovery.”

Parents and children were left traumatised by Tuesday’s attack outside Woodhead Primary School in Hamilton.

Last night, hero dad-of-two Chris, 34, told how he and an unidentified mum fought to get the dog off the youngster.

He said: “One minute things were normal, the next I heard really savage snarling and growling. I looked over and the dog had pinned something to the ground. I thought it was another dog, but then I saw it was a boy and heard ear-splitting screams.”

“I ran over and yanked at the lead. The dog was out of control. It was barbaric. I had to use my full strength. I remember thinking that if its jaws had locked I could be doing more harm than good, but I had no choice. I finally got the dog off and the boy was covered in blood. I couldn’t see how bad the injuries were. It was horrific.”

Another mum who witnessed the attack said last night: “If that man and the other woman had not been there to help, that wee boy would have been killed. It was not going to stop.”

Jude, who celebrated his seventh birthday just 10 days ago, had been walking out of school when the dog – which was on a lead but not muzzled – ran to him. The owners later told other parents they had only had the animal for a day.

Jude was rushed to Wishaw General Hospital, then transferred to Yorkhill Sick Kids Hospital in Glasgow, where he had 40 stitches put in a horrendous eye wound.

The dog has been reported to police and officers revealed that a man of 50 and two women, aged 24 and 26, would be the subject of reports to the procurator fiscal.

The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act comes into force this year and we wait to see if the full force of the law will at last be brought to bear on people who put the public at risk of serious injury and even death by keeping such powerful and potentially lethal animals.

Bonnar & Company has a specialist team set up to deal with dog attacks on adults and children and we can be contacted for free legal advice on 0800 163 978.   

Court orders Akita to be destroyed following serious attack in East Kilbride

A vicious Akita dog which broke a teenager’s arm in two places is to be destroyed and owner Natalie Burns, 23, was fined £1,000 yesterday after being found guilty of failing to control him.

An earlier trial heard the 15-year-old boy reached out to pat the dog near Main Street, East Kilbride, last May. It lunged forward and clamped its jaws around the boy’s arm, pulling it from side to side seconds after Burns warned him not to pat the dog, shouting: “Don’t touch him, he bites.”

The boy was taken to the town’s Hairmyres Hospital where he had a steel pin inserted in his arm, Hamilton Sheriff Court was told.

Charles Ferguson, defending, said Burns was a conscentious and hardworking woman. He pleaded that the dog should not be destroyed and Burns be given an absolute discharge. Burns said later: “It wasn’t the dog’s fault. He shouldn’t be put down.”

Let’s be quite clear about this dangerous dog issue. The phrase ‘dog bite’ rarely does justice to the pain and misery caused by a dog attack. The cases we deal with can involve life threatening injuries, permanent disfigurement and unimaginable pain and terror on the part of the victim. We have clients throughout Scotland who are scared to venture outdoors or afraid to let their children play in public parks because of what a dog has done to them.  

The good news is that the new Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act which comes into force next February, will cover all dogs and not just the so-called dangerous breeds. The Act is targeted at any dog which displays aggressive behaviour and places greater responsibility on owners to control their ‘pets’. This legislation is a positive step towards preventing irresponsible owners from allowing their dogs to ruin people’s lives as the full force of the law is about to come down on those people who ignore warnings and behave as if they are above the law.

If you or a member of your family has been attacked by any breed of dog you can call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for a no obligation review of case and your legal options.

Dangerous dog owners have something else in common

The owner of a dog which ripped a young girl’s face apart already had a criminal conviction for failing to control the animal.

Gaynor McCabe’s Japanese Akita savaged 10-year-old Toni Clannachan last week. The youngster needed 100 stitches and pictures of her horrific injuries shocked Scotland – but McCabe insisted the attack was out of character for her pet.

Newspaper reports have revealed that McCabe was convicted under the Dangerous Dogs Act in June 2009 after the Akita, called Kruger, attacked a springer spaniel in the street.

This follows revelations that Derek Adam, the owner of the two rottweilers that savaged 10-year-old Rhianna Kidd last Sunday was handed a court order in March this year which he ignored.

These dogs are not family pets, they are vicious out of control animals. In our opinion the new Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act cannot come into force quickly enough.

If you or a member of your family has been injured by a dog please call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for expert legal advice and a no obligation review of your case.

Third dog attack in Scotland in a week

Sadly, today’s headlines tell us that two-year-old Jemma Horn bears the scars of Scotland’s third horror attack by a dog on a little girl in a week.

She came within an inch of losing her left eye and had her nose torn when she was attacked by a Staffordshire bull terrier.

Jemma was mauled as she played with her twin brother Robbie and dad Robert at a family get-together on Saturday afternoon when the terrier – called Moses – pounced as she was standing next to her dad in the garden of the home in North Berwick, East Lothian.

The attack comes just days after two 10-year-olds were savaged in separate incidents in Dundee and Kilmarnock.

Dog owner, Ann Kidd, of Kilsyth, North Lanarkshire, claimed the dog was trying to play with Jemma. She said: “Her dad was trying to get her to pet it and it jumped up on her to try to lick her. Its paw caught her face and cut her. I am distraught about it. I hope the wee girl is OK. It was an accident. The dog is not vicious.”

The new Control of Dogs Act, which comes into force in Scotland in February 2011, is aimed at identifying, controlling and ultimately destroying dangerous and out-of-control dogs of any breed.

If you or a member of your family has been injured by a dog please call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for expert legal advice and a no obligation review of your case.