News In Focus
Scottish Parliament passes "dog Asbo" law
The Scottish Parliament has unanimously passed legislation that will give councils greater powers to impose penalties on the owners of dangerous dogs, including introducing so-called dog Asbos.
The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act, put forward by MSP Christine Grahame, places a sharper focus on the "deed and not the breed" of the dog, with more responsibility placed on the owners of badly behaved dogs.
It closes a loophole where if a child was attacked by a dog in its home, the owner could not be held legally responsible unless the animal was classified as a dangerous breed.
About 600 people are attacked by dogs every year in Scotland. In 2007 to 2008, a total of 363 people required hospital treatment.
Owners who fail to comply with dog control notices could be forced to keep their pet on a lead at all times, have it neutered, attend special training courses or face a fine of up to £1,000.
The legislation, which was backed in principle by the Local Government Committee earlier in the year, aims to modernise the existing "piecemeal" rules and regulations. However, concerns have been expressed about the costs of the proposed scheme and a potential rise in the number of strays.
Ms Grahame said: "This is a worthwhile bill. It gives local authorities and the police the legislative tools to deal with the growing problem of out-of-control dogs and attacks by dangerous dogs in private places."
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the Government saw the new dog control system as being a “preventative regime”, and he did not expect large numbers of dog control notices to be issued.