Consultation launched on licensing and microchipping dogs

muzzle The compulsory muzzling of dogs in public is one of the measures to be considered by a consultation launched by the Scottish government

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Dog owners could soon be required by law to have their pets microchipped under new proposals being considered by the Scottish government.

A consultation launched, aimed at cutting the number of dog attacks, will also consider whether dogs should be licensed and muzzled.

First Minister Alex Salmond said dog owners "must take full responsibility" for their pets.

The consultation will run until 31 March.

Police, councils, prosecutors and victims groups will meet in the new year to discuss the measures.

Earlier this month, Mr Salmond met the parents of children injured or killed by dangerous dogs to discuss what more could be done to prevent attacks.

Start Quote

We want to hear what the public think about measures to encourage even more responsible dog ownership”

End Quote Kenny MacAskill Justice secretary

Broagan McCuaig, aged eight, and four-year-old Sophia Bell were badly injured in separate attacks this year.

In 1989, Kellie Lynch, 11, was killed by two rottweilers.

'Strict measures'

Launching the consultation, Mr Salmond said: "I was grateful for the opportunity recently to hear directly from the parents of children who were attacked by dangerous dogs, and the ongoing effect this has had the families of Kellie Lynch, Sophia Bell and Broagan McCuaig.

"While we already have strict measures in place to deal with dangerous dogs, the Scottish government is continually exploring ways to improve procedures to keep our children and communities safe.

"I am clear we must always consider whether more can be done to ensure people are properly protected."

The consultation, which is seeking views from experts and members of the public, will explore a number of proposals including:

  • Compulsory microchipping, which would help the authorities identify dog owners and hold them responsible for the behaviour of their animal. According to the government, this measure would also help ensure owners did not breach welfare standards. Countries such as Denmark, France, Canada and Northern Ireland have already adopted the scheme.
  • Dog licensing. A previous licensing scheme was abolished in the UK 1987. At the time only about half of all owners adhered to the law and obtained a licence, which cost 37p.
  • Compulsory muzzling. Under current dog control notices animals deemed to be out-of-control, or at risk of behaving dangerously, are already be muzzled in public. Extending the measure to all dogs could be controversial, however, since it can be difficult for dogs to pant or take in water while muzzled during exercise.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said Scotland already had a "robust" approach to dog control, but he was keen to look at measures that would strengthen current laws.

Since it was introduced in February 2011, the Control of Dogs Act Scotland 2010 has led to 3,200 investigations into potentially out of control dogs and the issue of 240 dog control notices.

The notices require owners to microchip their dogs and can also insist on other measures such as muzzling in public.


The law was also strengthened to cover dog attacks in homes and gardens.

Mr MacAskill added: "We want to hear what the public think about measures to encourage even more responsible dog ownership, for example a new system of dog licensing, to ultimately further improve public safety.

"This consultation will allow people to offer their views on whether a more general system of muzzling of all dogs is practical or justified.

"It is crucial that our consultation approach fits the needs of our communities and we are keen to listen to the public to get their views on what more can be done to further improve public safety.

"Every incident is one too many - we need to ensure Scotland's system continues to focus on preventing these tragedies."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    I may not be a dog fan, but I think we should microchip people, especially stupid ones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    some owners dont care enough for their dog. We all have many examples of experiencing this. On the other scale many do care and look after the dog and this is reflected in how it behaves.

    The public is at risk sometimes and we dont want dogs attacking/jumpimg/slebering all over us. As usual its the "bad eggs" who ruin it for others

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Given that the majority of our most Dangerous Dogs are kept by our most Dangerous People it seems to me that a serious Pre-Ownership test would be more appropriate. Very few Neds would chip dogs unfortunate enough to be in their possession anyway Much better chipping the Neds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    We got our dog chipped when we picked it at the rescue centre. Several months later we took her to the vet for a check-up and the vet was unable to locate the chip. "Not a problem" she said, "that's a common occurrence. We'll just re-chip her."

    I see a lot of people complaining on this forum about dog mess. I don't see many complaining about neds leaving broken bottles which injure dogs paws.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    "I see there are quite a lot of dog haters here......."

    I make that 9 contributors (@1,4,13,14,20,23,24,26,27,31,45 and 46), so 14.8% is that a lot?

    People who don't understand why other people dislike dogs will never understand them. And vice versa!

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    How about talking their DNA as well and then testing the dog poo and a big fine. Can't let my kids play in public grassy areas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    anyway - most attacks occur in the home where the dog would not be muzzled and his micro-chip would make no difference.

    As to dog fouling - as an owner of 3 dogs who always cleans up after their dog, I too really object at the bad name the lazy and feckless give to the rest of us. Let's start a campaign for BIG fines for offenders. Every pocket of every jacket I possess contains an empty poobag

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Once again Salmond wants to interfere in the lives of the vast majority of responsible dog owners, just because of a tiny few, who do not look after there dogs correctly.
    He is besotted by the nanny state.
    The sooner we get rid of this socialist SNP government the better and elect politicians encourage personal responsibility.
    Salmond is a disgrace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    This should absolutely happen. I agree it is an irresponsible minority who cause the problem (and I mean humans not dogs) but this needs to happen. Also much stricter control on "puppy farms" and their policies. They will sell anyone a dog. And all dogs if they are not going to be used for breeding purposes should castrated or spayed. And there vets need to take much more control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Why isn't dog faeces on the agenda? Scotland is covered in the stuff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    What a good idea. I also like No 78 s idea of microchipping humans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Will police & assistance dogs, working collies & my aunt's toothless Maltese terrier be muzzled, too? If not, why not?

    The level of injury & death caused by dogs in Scotland is minute - although tragic for the individual families.

    Controlling & restricting the use of motor vehicles in a truly effective way would be a far more effective means of protecting the innocent, but doubtless 'too hard'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Should it not be compulsory to have your dog on a lead in public...with for instance a harness...this makes it harder for the dog to escape' almost impossible for it to bite someone, and if they were to say, that only one dog could be exercised by one person then this makes it easier still...less chance of someone being out with 5 Rottweilers which they could not control if something went wrong!,

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Keep up these ridiculous Nanny state ideas and you can save the country millions by cancelling the referendum.
    The dogs are not the problem, while we allow drug and alcohol induced neds to walk about with dogs stronger than a 6ft man purely for protection we will always have issues, i am sure the stats will still show that more damage is done to children by humans than dogs,lets have an enquiry!

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    If those canvassing for microchipping, will they then let themselves be microchipped too?....... Thought not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    71 - personally I'd rather muzzle you!

    If you think I'm going to muzzle my elderly standard poodle whose only crime is sidling up to strangers for a scratch and a cuddle - not only are you mistaken - you're barking!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    This proposal is just a money making exercise. Money for vets and enforcement and prosecution people. Simple requirement for a clear visible muzzle for all dogs actually prevents harm rather than make money for ambulance chasing no win no fee lawyers with chip readers, whose manufacturers also make money out of this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    78. Gabriel Oaks

    That was one of the cases I was referring too, but the man was initially found guilty. The pain and stress he had to go through over something that should have been obvious anyway. Some people also aren't so lucky and are still in jail now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    @hellblazer....I dont think many people would object to you having a dog for protection, i have found that the Police and Judiciary don't always side with a criminal attacked by a dog in your own home.
    As long as your pet is normally well behaved and is not a danger to the general public (especially kids)
    The burglar should not be there and deserves all they get !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    I think microchipping would benefit the welfare of dogs. A lot of good owners already get their pets microchipped, as it means that they are easier to trace, if they get lost or stolen. It would mean that less caring people could be held to account if they abuse a dog.


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