'Dog asbos' come into force in Scotland

German Shepherd pulling on leash Dogs will now be judged on their behaviour rather than their breed

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New legislation has come into force in Scotland to close a loophole in the Dangerous Dogs Act.

The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act aims to judge dogs on their behaviour, not breed, and gives powers to impose penalties on irresponsible owners.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the "dog Asbos" would "help encourage dog owners to take responsibility for the actions of their dogs".

The legislation was passed by MSPs last April.

It was taken through Holyrood as a Member's Bill by SNP backbencher Christine Grahame.

The Dogs Trust welcomed the development and called for effective training.

Trust chief executive Clarissa Baldwin said: "Dogs Trust greatly welcomes the introduction of this act as it places a legislative focus on the deed, rather than the breed of dog and will quite rightly hold irresponsible dog owners to account.

"However, it is vital that local authorities provide their officers with adequate training to ensure this act is properly enforced."

'Welfare implications'

She added: "Scotland is leading the way on this issue but more needs to be done across the rest of the UK.

"The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was a knee-jerk piece of legislation which has done little to protect the public and has had massive welfare implications for thousands of dogs who have been put to sleep simply because of their breed."

The legislation will also allow dog owners to be held responsible if their animal behaves in a dangerous manner in their own home.

Owners who fail to comply with the dog control notices could be forced to keep their pet on a lead at all times, have it neutered, attend special training courses or face a fine of up to £1,000.

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