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 241.

    Wow. I must have upset some folks ... 2 posts barred. I wonder why ??

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    @230 Working dogs are still very much prevalent in farming communities! Also, guide dogs, hearing dogs and disability dogs are vital aids to those who would struggle without them. Some dogs simply cannot wear muzzles as they would be unable to breathe or regulate body temperature correctly. So should all dogs be muzzled? No. Also who are you suggesting pays killing dogs that haven't been chipped?

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    am a postie and while delivering i got attacked by a dog and all the owner could say is it didnt touch you , yeah right it pulled my shoulder badly ,theres 5,500 dog attacks on postman a year should we have to put up with that no owners need to take responsibility , you need pet insurance then you should have a licence etc too ..

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    @219 If I own or create anything that is inherently dangerous I have a legal obligation to ensure that its danger is contained at all times. So if you own a dog known to belongs to a statistically dangerous breed & it escapes or is released even through no fault of yours you surely hold some (not 100%) responsibility for any harm it causes merely by having chosen to own the dangerous breed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    Yes micro chip all dogs but what really needs addressed is the breeding of dogs by irresponsible breeders every breeder whether its individuals or kennels should be held responsible for the dogs they are breeding and should pay to be licensed. Just like cattle you should be able to trace back where they came from and who owned it through out it's life and fines for not keeping records up to date

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    Noticed that the Consultation are taking in opinions from Police, councils, prosecutors and victims groups.... but not actually any dog owners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    You've admitted you were wrong,

    No I've agreed 3 words in one post were open to misinterpretation but I was right & you were & are still wrong, you are always responsible for your dog, you may manage to get let off your responsibility in a few bizarre circumstances but the law effectively says owners are responsible for their dogs in a public place

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    I have a black retriever it is both a pet and can retrieve anything I teach it to with obvious physical limits, not only is it important fr the dogs brain to have a job but is excellent exercise another useful tool that will keep any dog breed you choose calm and under control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    Great Idea, but tbh I cant helping thinking that many Dogs should perhaps be forced to have their owners licensed and microchipped................

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    228.Robbyn Graves

    Then it's very subjective isn't it? All I'm saying is, what you said when we initially started this argument, is this there are circumstances(no matter how infrequent) that is certainly not the owners fault and you damn well know it. If I lock the dog in the house, as far as I'm concerned she is secure. If I leave the door open, 100% my fault and there is no arguing that.

  • Comment number 231.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    @221 How many GR's are required to retrieve anything other than a ball/stick etc thrown by their owner? How many Jack Russels are actually raters? Widening to the point you suggests the age of the working dog is largely done, the vast majority of dogs are pets & so surely can be subjected to whatever rules & laws society decides are reasonable. & chipping & muzzling are both very reasonable imo.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    My wife isn't very happy about this proposal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    so the police are certainly responsible for what their dogs do when they're out & about chasing criminals. You'll struggle to find many cases of burglers letting dogs out of houses & the dogs attacking people & owners not being held responsible but there have been a few where owners have released dogs to chase after criminals & end up on the wrong side of the law

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Well if its a Scottish govt proposal - they can d*mn well pay for it - don't expect to come cap in hand for more cash to England - after the money runs out 2 months after Sept 2014

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    What a load of nonsense! More children are killed by their own parents in one year than deaths caused by dogs in ten years. Should we euthanise everyone born in Glasgow, because statistically, Glaswegians murder more people each year than the rest of the country? This again is politicians needing to be seen to doing something,anything, even although it will not have any effect!

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    After completely destroying the arguments of different posters that are all the same person(troll harder) I need to go and get drunk. I'll make sure my dog is tied up by the arms and legs, and obvious at the mouth, just in case I'm not there and a thief lets her out. After all, 100% my fault for having a job and needing to leave. I should feel disgusted with myself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    It is now to easy to buy a dog. You see the ads all the time in shop windows. This is a huge black market and there should be legislation to protect the dogs, the buyer of the dogs, and the prosecution of people who breed and sell dogs to anyone for hard cash regardless of where the dog is going.
    Dog should not be bought or sold if they are not chipped

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.


    If it were true?

    Sorry did you not see the link staring you straight in the face? lets have another shall we Mr Troll(:D):

    £770,000 paid out to police dog bite victims

    "Eight police forces reported more than 100 dog bites over the last three years."

    Hardly fringe minority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    @215 in what way is it cruel and barbaric to muzzle dogs? Seems like a perfectly reasonable & sensible thing to do. I would also suggest humanely putting down all unchipped dogs as well as the dogs of owners who dont clean up after their pets. You are right people are the real issue but they need to learn their behaviour has consequences and sadly only taking away their "toys" might actually work.


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