Councils fail to crack down on dangerous dogs and owners

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More than two-thirds of councils are failing to use new hardline powers to crack down on dangerous dogs and their owners that came into effect in February.

Only 31 dog control notices, dubbed dog Asbos, have been issued since the new laws came into force.

The MSP behind the Control of Dogs Act now says it is time for a wake-up call on the part of councils. Nationalist Christine Grahame said: "I'm disappointed that some local authorities have not woken up to the fact that Scotland is in advance of England in this matter in implementing the Control of Dogs Act.

"It tackles the deed, not the breed, and puts the onus on the owner, where it squarely belongs. I hope now with the publicity in England they will wake up to their responsibilities, because this is legislation. They can't just ignore it."

So far, 21 of the 31 councils that responded to the Scotsman's inquiries have not issued any notices. These include major cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, while only two have been issued in Aberdeen.

A spokesman for Glasgow city council said: "We have investigated five complaints under this legislation but there has not been any requirement to issue any orders.

"However, officers say they are geared up to use the powers and expect it is simply a matter of time before they do."

East Renfrewshire Council has also failed to issue any control notices and said it has not brought in the measures.

A council spokeswoman said: "East Renfrewshire Council has not yet adopted the dog control legislation. However, a comprehensive report is currently being compiled which will be presented for discussion at a future council meeting."

Three of the UK's leading animal welfare charities - Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the RSPCA and The Blue Cross - expressed disappointment at the weekend about the coalition government's failure to address dog control issues.

Steve Goody, director of external affairs at The Blue Cross, said: "It is encouraging that some councils in Scotland are already embracing dog control orders to help protect their communities and we would encourage all councils to follow suit and enforce the law in their areas."

The Scottish legislation introduced a new regime of dog control notices, which allows local authorities to impose measures on owners where they fail to keep their dogs under control.

Some councils appear to have embraced the new law, with West Lothian issuing eight in the past six months, while East Ayrshire and East Lothian have issued six apiece.

Bill Gilchrist of East Ayrshire Council said: "Offences are mainly attacks on other dogs and causing fear and alarm by aggressive behaviour.

The legislation in Scotland was passed after the number of dog attacks jumped by 160 per cent from 239 to 623 over an eight-year period.