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SKC welcomes MSP’s dog control bill
Scottish Kennel Club broadly welcomes changes to dangerous dogs
legislation in Scotland as a long awaited improvement


ALMOST SEVENTEEN years ago, the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) came into being. Such a flawed piece of legislation has lain on the statute books with few MPs acknowledging the fact that this Act was contrary to British justice – guilty until proven innocent.

On Tuesday 15th January 2008, in front of the national press and television, SKC joined with the KC and some welfare organisations to add support to Alex Neil MSP as he launched a consultation to introduce a ‘Control of Dogs Bill’ which could, if passed, radically change the DDA.

It has to be a disappointment that the political climate is such that Section 1, which contains the list of ‘breeds’, remains within the proposals. However, the major change is that, if passed into law in Scotland, this Bill will make dog biting incidents in private property a criminal offence with the ‘deed’ being judged not the ‘breed’.

‘Control orders’, issued by the Sheriff, would apply to all dogs which have acted dangerously. These could range from:-

• An order to keep the dog muzzled and on a lead in public places
• Compulsory training classes
• A large fine and/or imprisonment
• A ban on keeping dogs

The above could almost be considered ‘doggy ASBOs’ but on the owner, not the dog.
Dogs which have been judged to have transgressed would be required to be microchipped and failure to notify a change in address or ownership would also be a criminal offence.
It is to be hoped that this would encourage owners to be more responsible and train their dogs to be well-mannered members of society.

However, the compulsory training classes may well be the part which would be the most difficult to enforce. Training clubs are finding it much more difficult to secure venues for dog training. SKC would seek assurances that the Bill would include some support to these clubs and that the Scottish Government would encourage Local Authorities to open premises to dog training for the education of the public and the welfare of the dogs.

Responsible dog owners have nothing to fear from these changes as the majority of the proposals are to be welcomed. However, SKC would encourage responses to the consultation by its closing date of Monday 14th April 2008, copies of which can be obtained at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/bills/MembersBills/pdfs/DangerousDogsConsultation.pdf

Jean Fairlie
Parliamentary Liaison Officer, Scottish Kennel Club