MSPs on the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee have today said that current dog control legislation isn’t fit for purpose and called on the Scottish Government to undertake a comprehensive review of all dog control laws immediately.
The Committee has just completed its review of the 2010 Control of Dogs Act. MSPs heard evidence from victims and witnesses of dog attacks and concluded that there is still an unacceptable level of attacks in Scotland.
The Committee heard that a lack of data was a significant barrier in evaluating the effectiveness of the 2010 Act and that the failure of Scottish Ministers to use the powers given to them under the 2010 Act to establish a Scottish Dog Control Database was unacceptable and must be rectified immediately.
It was recognised that numerous factors have limited the effectiveness of the Act including; a lack of awareness and a lack of resources at local authority level which has resulted in an insufficient number of dog control wardens being appointed to enforce the current law.
Speaking as the report was published, Committee Convener, Jenny Marra MSP, said:
“Dog law in Scotland is not fit for purpose. There are still far too many dog attacks on children and little enforcement or understanding of the current laws that might prevent these attacks.
“It has become clear that current dog control law doesn’t work. It needs reformed urgently so that out of control and dangerous dogs can be dealt with properly and we can try to move to a system that prevents our children being injured by dogs.”
David Graham, from Edinburgh has had Gizmo, a Shih Tzu for the past 8 years. David and Gizmo joined together just 6 months after David had left the army when his psychiatrist recommended that David should seek out a therapy pet to help improve his mental health. They have been inseparable since.
One day when heading to the shops, Gizmo was attacked by another dog which left Gizmo heavily bleeding from both his nose and eyes.
“Ever since the attack Gizmo won’t go near dogs of the same breed or colour. This one attack has certainly left a permanent mental scar.
“I remember going to the police after the attack before anyone else and then just feeling completely confused in the whole process of what happened next. My experience showed the gaps that exist in current dog control law. Dogs like Gizmo should be safe, and we need laws that guarantee that.”
The Committee recognised that until a review of legislation was completed, more immediate action would be needed. Recommendations to achieve this included:
• The immediate establishment of a ‘Scottish Dog Control Database’ to improve the effectiveness of the Act.
• GPs, hospitals, local authorities and Police Scotland to be required to record and collect consistent data on reported incidences.
• Local authorities to use their by-law powers to create secure play areas for children within parks from which dogs are banned.
• An immediate and overdue awareness campaign of the 2010 Act to educate the wider population of how it can be used.
Read the full report here.