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 121.

    Micro chips should contain the DNA of the dog, traffic wardens can then pick up the pooh left behind by dog owners and fine them for the mess. This would clean up our streets as well as giving traffic wardens suitable work

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    113 - put down immediately? Not the dog's fault - ever, ever! Always the fault of some inadequate and stupid human. We have 2 mastiffs. One badly abused and starved - total softy she is too. The other used as an ashtray by the first owner. Still has the scars. You consider this their fault for which they should die?

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    I reckon that all Politicians should be micro-chipped with GPS. So we can find out how much time they spend doing what there paid for not on there own business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    All dogs should be muzzled in Public places..

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    How about enforcing the laws already there. I have two dogs, never of their leads, always clean up after them, yet every day out walking its the opposite, sometimes people with groups of dogs all of the lead.

    Crack down on current problems before introducing something else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    QE @ 103

    Such subjective belief ... please don't reply. I like my (well trained and obedient) dog. You, obviously, do not like dogs. Tant pis. Chacun a son gout !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Most of it is Human.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Make it compulsory micro chip and register the dog to an owner.
    That person is then responsible in law for any misdemeanors the dog commits, in the same way a person is. whether they are with the dog or not.
    If it wounds GBH.
    If it kills then manslaughter or murder.
    This should focus dog owners on keeping their charges in order and under control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Good idea. Any un-chipped dog could then be put down at once and removed from society. This would help reduce the number of unpleasant 'vanity dogs' kept by those who have an unpleasant dog as a 'status symbol'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Microchip-ing is essential. Do it. Do It Noaw.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Why only Scotland ?.How many people have to be mauled before our lot get to grips with the problem?

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    We license guns, cars
    and drugs; all can potential
    kill; the fact dogs are unlicensed
    in 2013 is madness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    No need to come up with elaborate and expensive schemes to control aggressive dogs. There is an easy solution.
    Pass a law that all pet dogs must be neutered. Castrated dogs don`t go around wanting to be top dog.
    Then anyone wanting to keep a full dog would have to buy a special breeding license, which would be made purposely expensive and registered.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    The J Hoovers Witnesses
    "It's beyond me why anyone wants to share a home, with something which gets constantly excited about absolutely nothing...."

    I've never understood Samantha Cameron either. Nor Yvette Cooper for that matter.

    (Sorry: just couldn't resist that but thought it prudent to omit the rest of the quoted sentence...)

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    Dog owners, not the dogs themselves, are the problem.

    With regard to dogs' dirt, in parts of the USA on-the-spot fines are issued by law enforcement officers should a dog owner fail to have a poop-scoop/bag on their person whilst in a public place with their dog.

    Don't see why we can't have similar here, and in addition a law whereby certain specific breeds must wear a muzzle in public areas

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    I think this is a great idea; actually I think all pets should be micro-chipped.

    I'm not a dog hater, but my kids are often quite scared of other people's dogs. I'd really like to see dog owners take more collective responsibility for dog fouling and not blame it on 'a few' (more like the majority, actually). And I'd really, really like to see some dog-free parks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Oh dear....such wrong information. I live in Canada and can assure you that microchipping is not mandatory and, in fact, very few people actually do it.

    You should be more diligent in your fact checking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Is this what they call a 'slow news day'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    77. mhggm "..I shall be keeping my 'best friend' as I consider myself to be a responsible owner."

    No, you still misunderstand. As long as any dogs are allowed in streets and parks irresponsible owners will take advantage, as you must be well aware. A complete ban is the only practical solution and this unfortunately affects responsible owners such as yourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Many powerful lobby groups; the car lobby and the dog lobby are two of the most powerful, and both of them have an undue influence on our laws. It is insane that innocent people (like pedestrians who make up the most causalities on our roads. And passive individuals attacked by dogs) are not protected in law - they never will be protected.
    Message - take good care of yourself, nobody else will


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