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New law would punish owners, not dogs

It is hoped by animal campaigners north of the Border that a new law on dangerous dogs will be in place in Scotland by next year.

Staffordshire Bull TerrierNationalist MSP Christine Grahame this week relaunched a bill to replace the ‘flawed’ Dangerous Dogs Act. The bill, which is backed by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), aims to end the ban on some breeds and instead concentrate on dogs’ behaviour.

Ms Grahame said: ‘This is being looked on very favourably by the Scottish Government, so hopefully it can be in place within a year. The important thing is that it punishes irresponsible owners.’

The SSPCA’s Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn added that the current act, put through parliament by former Conservative home secretary Kenneth Baker in 48 hours was ‘flawed’.

‘The problem is that it bans breeds, when in fact there is no such thing as a totally safe dog; it is how they are looked after and reared,’ he said. ‘What we want is for bad owners to be punished, not dogs.’

Currently, police can only intervene when a dog is behaving dangerously in a public place or on someone else's property, but the bill would make it possible for action to be taken when an animal is out of control in its owner’s home.


Mr Flynn added that confusion over dangerous breeds had led to hundreds of Staffordshire bull
terriers to be dumped at SSPCA centres. ‘Out of the 80 dogs we have in Glasgow at the moment about half are Staffordshires,’ he said. ‘"It is because people think they are illegal when they are not.’

The bill was originally put forward last year by Alex Neil MSP, but is being relaunched as he is now Communities Minister and cannot pursue the legislation as an individual member of the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Grahame said: ‘This is a very important bill and I am very happy to promote it and take this forward. It importantly places the onus on the owners, not the dogs, to ensure they are properly controlled. The bill will offer a flexible range of control orders, like anti-social behaviour orders for dogs. This will provide practical measures to stop dogs getting out of control and place the focus on the owner.’

Animal welfare organisations, dog experts and dog owners have all been officially consulted.

The Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) has already backed the bill and called for more “realistic penalties” to be handed down by the courts.

According to the CWU, postal workers in the UK are victim to 5,000 - 6,000 dog attacks every year, with many resulting in serious injuries.

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It is about time that owners are held responsible for their pets.
too much liberalism, socialism in the world today, not enough accountability on the people, or the politicians.
Too many excuses for bad behavior in people, dogs are dogs.
Some people are idiots and just don't care, then of course, there is the criminal element, oh but we don't want to talk about that aspect of society, shhhh!

Jeanette Fossum