Tough action to tackle dangerous dogs unveiled at Holyrood

TOUGH new measures aimed at tackling dangerous dogs will be unveiled at the Scottish Parliament today.

The proposals, which have been worked on for a number of months, are being revealed less than three weeks after a 13-month-old boy, Archie-Lee Andrew Hirst, was mauled to death by a family rottweiler in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Nationalist MSP Alex Neil, who will launch a consultation exercise on the issue, said the incident made the "shortcomings" of the existing legislation "all-too-evident".

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The plans will seek to introduce control orders for dogs which are acting dangerously.

Under the proposals, a court could force an owner to have a dog microchipped, retrained, or neutered, for example, in a bid to prevent attacks happening.

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

The consultation launch today marks the beginning of a bid to get a Member's Bill on the issue through the Scottish Parliament. A draft Bill is expected to be published in the coming months.

Mr Neil said: "A tragedy has to happen, basically, before the law comes into play, and that's a real problem.

"At the moment, if a dog is acting dangerously in a house, then it's not an offence. What my Bill would do is make it an offence, no matter where the dog was acting dangerously."

The consultation has been produced in collaboration with a working group of experts, including members of the Kennel Club, Advocates for Animals and the Scottish SPCA.