Dog control laws in Scotland have been described as “not fit for purpose”, with MSPs calling for an urgent review of current legislation.
In a report published by Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee, MSPs stated there is still an “unacceptably high prevalence of dog attacks” and suggested that numbers have not fallen since the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act was introduced in 2010.
They also noted that some evidence appeared to indicate there had even been an increase in the number of attacks.
In assessing the impact of the law, the committee said that had the 2010 Act achieved its objective of getting and keeping out-of-control dogs back under control, there would have been a reduction in the number of people requiring hospital treatment following attacks.
The report concluded: “The committee considers that current dog control law is not fit for purpose and recommends that the Scottish Government undertakes a comprehensive review of all dog control legislation without delay, with a view to introducing modernised, fit for purpose, consolidated dog control legislation.”
The committee added that in the interim, steps should be taken to improve the implementation of the 2010 Act.
Two reviews have been launched by the Scottish Government as part of efforts to strengthen legislation.
At the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, the findings outlined in the report by the committee will be debated by MSPs.
Committee convener Jenny Marra said: “We heard evidence from victims and witnesses of dog attacks, and concluded that there is still an unacceptable level of attacks.
“Our report called for the urgent reform of current dog control legislation so that out-of-control and dangerous dogs can be dealt with effectively.
“It is also vital that immediate action is taken to improve enforcement of the existing powers which might help prevent attacks.
“Barely a week goes by without reports of yet another tragic incident. The Government needs to treat this issue with the high priority it deserves.”
Minister for community safety Ash Denham said: “The Scottish Government is absolutely determined to help keep communities safe from irresponsible owners and their out-of-control dogs. That is why we are holding two reviews into dog control legislation.
“Our consultation published last week seeks views on improvements on how the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 can operate across Scotland.
“Next year we will take a wider look at all dog control legislation to assess whether changes are needed to ensure the safety of our communities.”