The number of dangerous dog notices issued in Scotland has risen by almost 270 per cent in the space of six years, according to official figures gathered from councils.
The statistics show that since the system of Dog Control Notices (DCNs) came into force in February 2011, the number handed out each year has jumped from 92 to 339.
DCNs are issued to owners of dogs that have been shown to be “out of control” and require the owner to modify and manage their pet’s behaviour in the interest of public safety.
The notices also put a legal duty on dog owners to keep their pets under control, and may contain a number of actions that they have to complete within a set period.
These can include keeping the dog on a lead or muzzling it while in public and completing a training course. All dogs issued with a DCN are also implanted with a microchip.
The figures, which emerged in a Scottish Government response to a parliamentary question from the Conservatives, show that the number of DCNs handed out by councils has been steadily rising.
In 2012/13 the total number was 147, increasing to 244 the following year and 277 in 2014/15. The number then stayed at 290 for two years before climbing again to 339 in 2017/18.
The local authority which has handed out the most DCNs is Fife, with 311 issued since the rules came into force. West Lothian was next with 126.
Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden described the figures as “concerning” as they suggested dog owners were increasingly failing to look after their pets properly.
“It indicates more incidents of ‘out of control’ dogs have taken place and people have been put at risk,” he added.
“Owning a dog is a real joy but also comes with responsibilities. All dog owners must ensure that their dogs are trained, socialised and supervised so that they are not a risk to humans or animals.”
He added that “dramatic” regional variations in the number of DCNs issued by local councils also suggested the measures were being enforced differently across the country.
The notices were intended to close a loophole in the Dangerous Dogs Act so animals were judged dogs on their behaviour rather than simply their breed.
At the time, the then Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill described the measures as “dog Asbos” that would “help encourage dog owners to take responsibility for the actions of their dogs”.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Control of Dogs Act was a members’ bill that all parties supported.
“The use of the powers within the legislation are a matter for individual local authorities.”