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 381.

    There is part of the underlying problem that is never discussed which is the huge number of dogs we now have in the UK, 10.5 million in 2011 according to one (peer-reviewed) estimate. Many people reckon there are too many people in the UK but completely ignore the dog population who use up quite a lot resources & space. it may be time to consider whther we've let the number get out of hand

  • rate this

    Comment number 380.

    Microchip and license, fine, but mandatory insurance? No way!
    1) As soon as you make pet insurance mandatory the premiums will sky-rocket through the roof! They're bad enough as it is.
    2) We have PDSA for a reason, so that people who fall on hard times do not have to pay for insurance or for their pet care, and can keep them instead of more pets in rescue. Our rescues are already full to bursting!

  • rate this

    Comment number 379.

    chipped, licensed and insured. Then we might get some responsible ownership.

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    microchipping and licensing seem like reasonable proposals but the suggestion that all dogs should be required to be muzzled is simply a knee jerk overreaction. By this logic any other potential danger should be "muzzled" also, how about a national speed limit of 25mph everywhere to avoid the 175+ fatalities that occurred on Scotland's roads in 2012 ... no? thought so its a silly idea! Q.E.D

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    @227 I think if you do your home work you will find that Engerland will be coming cap in hand to Scotland after 2014 if we are such a drain on Engerlands resources why are your politicians so desperate to not give us independence. Or do you believe all the crap you are fed from Wasteminster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    The trouble is lack of enforcement of existing laws. There should be police involvement follow these rules also?

    My experience is the police aren't that interested or the councils who are supposed to enforce the current Scottish regulations, there are a lot of dog owners amongst them which may explain it though police very selective in what they choose to enforce generally

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    #357 It's not racist. Being a Scot is an accident of birth, not race. I am a Celt who was born in Ireland, my little brother is also a Celt but he was born in London, so is English.
    Therefore, your ignorant comment says more about your lack of understanding about what is and what isn't racism than I ever could. Race is about far more than what country you are born in. Get a sense of Humour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.


    England already has its own parliament in Westminster where 533 MPs out of a total of 650 are representing English constituencies which means English MPs can outvote all others with ease. . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    1) Compulsary microchip.
    2) Dont licence, compulsary insurance using the chip - as car license.
    3) Don't muzzle. It will be dangerous for some breeds as said below - and how does that solve attacks indoors?
    Remember, most of us already insure.
    Westminster chickened out on this the last time microchipping was discussed - fear of too many dogs thrown in the beginning rather than pay

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    @Andrew Morton - Are you another one of these SNP rottweilers we're all getting really bored of seeing bobbing up in every internet thread from Mumsnet to Youtube? It's not going unnoticed by the way, all the reasonable people in Scotland are seeing what's going with the SNP minions and it's getting old fast.

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    The main part of this, chipping, is alredy due to become mandatory in England, so Scotland is following not leading, the other ideas in the onsultation are unlikely to make it to legislation, I suppose you could argue they're trying to make Scotl;and look different by including them at all

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    The Scottish government is attempting to show the Scottish people that is able to govern on its own before the 2014 referendum. This policy looks impressive and it is right that it happens and is rolled out nationally not just in Scotland. Salmond is a clever man and he knows what he's doing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    My dog has a question. Why don't BBC Scotland broadcast the fact that they have been censured by the BBC Trust over their misreporting of the Irish Foreign Minister's remarks about Scotland's membership of the EU? I've tried explaining to him that this would be highly embarrassing for John Boothman and could discredit the BBC's close association with the no campaign but he won't accept it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    Also, possibly compulsory dog-training course for owners, unless they can prove prior competence?
    Like using a car. Or what should be necessary to own firearms (esp in the US). All are potentially lethal weapons & should be regarded as a responsibility, not an automatic right with no proper training.

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    what about Scooby and Scrappy Doo? muzzle Scrappy by all means but Scooby is relatively easy going, chip them both? yes, definitely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    To muzzle all dogs is ridiculous! 98% of dogs are owned by responsible people and they do no harm. I have 2 dogs myself and neither would hurt a fly. I have also owned rescue dogs in the past and though one had a history of aggression with love and care he grew to trust me and by the end he would let my two year old niece and nephew climb all over him, pull his ears, e.t.c without even flinching,

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    The problem is that dogs have moved up the social ladder, they're given free reign in the house, often sleeping on beds with their owners, fed human food, being allowed to lick children's faces despite many of the dogs carrying worms. Also, years ago the only people who owned Staffies, Rotts and Alsations were scrap dealers who had them to protect their yards, Now every wannabee hardman owns one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    dogs, hurt or kill,,, get a licience or a chip,,, does that mean, that dogs wont hurt ,,,, or kill,, or is that a cop out,, to get more money off dog owners,, i hate dog owners that get dogs they know might be dangerous, i dont understand how getting a liceance or chip helps children to stop getting killed, , prison for all owners of killer dogs ,, or what ???????

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    What about "travellers" dogs. Folk who don't permanently live in Scotland or have a permanent address. Will they be required to follow these rules also?

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    M-chip dogs= seems sensible,as long as no adverse health effects

    Licensing= seems sensible- been done b4- but £ shldnt b so hi as to prevent responsible,less well-off owners

    Compulsory muzzle ALL dogs= knee-jerk overreaction,punishing majority innocents.
    Dangerous dogs already covered- just make sure current rules enforced

    M-chip/muzzle irresponsible owners..= p'haps desirable,but unlikely :-P


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