Dangerous dog investigations double last year

Investigations into out-of-control dogs in Scotland almost doubled in one year with thousands of incidents recorded, newly published figures show.

The number of investigations into dangerous dogs doubled in the last reported figures. Picture: Contributed
The number of investigations into dangerous dogs doubled in the last reported figures. Picture: Contributed
The number of investigations into dangerous dogs doubled in the last reported figures. Picture: Contributed

There were 2,080 local council investigations in 2012-13 compared to 1,114 the year before, figures released at Holyrood reveal.

The sharp rise in incidents comes as ministers face growing calls to toughen dog control laws to reduce the risk of attacks.

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There was also an increase in the number of dog control notices issued by councils, with the numbers rising from 92 to 147 over the year.

Aberdeen had the most investigations at 317 last year followed by West Lothian at 214, while Aberdeenshire had 198 during the same period. Parts of Scotland saw a dramatic increase in incidents recorded, which led to calls for ministers to do more to protect people from dangerous dogs. In Aberdeenshire, the number of investigations by officials increased from 89 to 198 between 2011-12 and 2012-13.

The number of dangerous dog investigations went up from 207 to 317 in Aberdeen and from 164 to 214 in West Lothian.

There was also a sharp increase in investigations in Dundee, with figures rising from five to 136 over the year-long period. In Edinburgh there was an increase from 32 to 164. Glasgow saw a fall in investigations, with the numbers dropping from 12 in 2011-12 to five last year.

Conservative public health spokeswoman Dr Nanette Milne said the catalogue of incidents was alarming, and called for stricter controls on the breeding of dangerous dogs. Dr Milne said: “Last year was a particularly bad one for dog attacks in Scotland, with a number of high-profile cases right across the country.

“The fact these investigations have increased shows you just how concerned the public is about this serious issue. However, it is worrying that some councils appear to be treating this as a priority while others are paying hardly any attention to the matter.

“But what we really need to do is target these puppy farms where dangerous dogs are being illegally bred and given no kind of controlled upbringing whatsoever. The breeding and control of dogs in socially-rented properties also has to be addressed by local authorities as a matter of urgency.”

Labour MSP Paul Martin said it should be illegal to take certain breeds out in public without them being muzzled, or being on a short lead.

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Ministers have also faced calls to back compulsory microchipping so all dogs could be traced to their owners or breeders.

The Scottish Government said it had launched a summit on responsible dog ownership. A government spokeswoman said the summit will “bring together local authorities so best practice can be shared between the best and the worst”. The spokeswoman said: “Investigating reports and speaking to and warning owners can help ensure responsible dog owners keep their dogs under control.”

A spokesman from local councils body Cosla said: “Scotland’s councils take this matter very seriously indeed. This clearly illustrates councils are being active in this area and responding in the best possible way to make sure that communities are as safe as possible.“

Dog welfare charity Dogs Trust called on Scottish ministers to introduce “compulsory microchipping” in addition to dog control orders.