Scottish Conservative MSPs Murdo Fraser and Liz Smith have expressed concerns over the number of dog control notices handed out in Fife – 264 in five years - stating “it is a matter that needs to be addressed.”
The politicians, who both represent the Mid Scotland and Fife region, said they found the statistics – which were released by the Scottish Government following a parliamentary question at Holyrood recently – “very alarming,” with a total of 264 notices dished out in Fife between the 2013/14 financial year and the 2017/18 financial year.
Fife had the unenviable accolade of having the most dog control notices issued in Scotland, with the number rising from 48 in 2013/14 to 59 in 2017/18.
The alarming figures come on the back of Dr Alasdair Corfield from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, telling MSPs earlier this year that dog attacks on young children happen thousands of times a year in Scotland.
Dog Control Notices are issued when a person is required to keep their dog under control. The use of the notices forms part of the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010. The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 is designed to focus on the problem, rather than the breed. Local authorities are given power to take action against dogs deemed ‘out-of-control’ and impose requirements on the owner to improve the dog’s behaviour.
The dog notices can include measures such as keeping a dog on a lead, muzzling it and attending behavioural training courses. Failure to follow these steps amounts to a criminal offence which may lead to a fine of up to £1,000. Alternatively, the dog owner may be disqualified from owning or keeping a dog for specific period of time.
Commenting on the figures released by the Scottish Government, Mr Fraser said: “These figures on the number of dog control notices being issued are very alarming and indicate there have been a lot of instances of this kind of action being taken in Fife.
“The scale of dog attacks was revealed at a committee at the Parliament earlier this year. Members of the post-legislative scrutiny committee heard parents of children either killed or disfigured by out-of-control dogs provide details of these horrific attacks when dog owners acted irresponsibly.
“There is also a problem with dog attacks on livestock – a matter that the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) raise with us regularly. Sheep have been left injured, permanently disfigured and in some cases killed in recent attacks.
“Irresponsible dog owners must face up to reality and take action to control their dogs.”
Liz Smith added: “These figures produced by the Scottish Government show that this is an issue in Fife that needs addressed. To have 264 dog control notices issued in the space of five years is a shocking statistic.
“The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 was introduced to control dangerous dogs but perhaps it is time we looked at tougher criminal sentences for owners following dog attacks and for bringing in control orders to cover the whole of Scotland so that owners who move can still be monitored.”