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
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.”