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The Scottish Parliament Dog Fouling (Scotland) Bill submission by the Scottish Kennel Club

About The Club

The Scottish Kennel Club is the leading authority on canine matters in Scotland and its principal aim is to promote and encourage the improvement and well-being of dogs in Scotland. The Club operates a Breeders’ Register, which is the principal source of pedigree dogs in Scotland and, through this, as well as by other means, it encourages responsible dog ownership. The Club also promotes activities for non-pedigree dogs and encourages dog training as an essential part of dog ownership.

Principal Aims of Bill

The Club’s view on the specific aims is as follows:

Offence of Dog Fouling
The amendment to the offence definition is welcomed as being more sensible and helpful to dog owners in dealing practically with dog fouling and to the general public in understanding these practicalities.

Enforcement Provisions
These are unsatisfactory in that they do not state that the offence must be witnessed by the person authorised by the local authority. As the Bill stands, it therefore allows in para 1(4) for any person to say that they have witnessed an offence and to inform the authorised person, who would then have ‘reason to believe’ that an offence has been committed. This could lead to the ‘hounding’ of one individual (dog owner) by another person who may dislike dogs. This is not an uncommon situation and it is therefore considered that the authorised person must be present at the time of the offence.

Other Aspects of the Bill

The Club considers that the following matters should also be addressed:

The definition of the uses for a working dog in para. 3(1)(b) is too narrow. Dogs are involved in a wide variety of working practices and this should be reflected in the Bill by means of a general definition such as ‘for the purpose of a recognised working activity’.

Authorised Persons
Whilst such as dog wardens and environmental health officers may be suitable for this definition, it is not considered acceptable for a wide range of other local authority persons, such as street cleaners, to have this authority. The system will lack credibility if the authorised person is not seen to have an ‘official’ position in the community.

Form of Fixed Penalty Notices
The particulars referred to in para 6(1) should be designated in the legislation as ‘including date, time and specific place’ in order to deter false accusations and provide the dog owner with sufficient information in the event that a challenge to the penalty notice is made.

Other Related Matters

The Club wishes to make the following points in connection with the contents of the Bill:

Provision of Litter Receptacles
Whilst the prime responsibility for removal of dog fouling rests with the dog owner, local authorities could greatly assist by providing more litter receptacles and by ensuring that they are regularly emptied. It seems clear that, where such provision is made, the problem of dog fouling is greatly mitigated.

Proliferation of Legislation
Attention is once again drawn to the large number of unrelated pieces of legislation affecting dog owners. This Bill further exacerbates this and it is considered that the Parliament should consider some form of consolidation in the interests of assisting the education of the public on such matters.