City leaders vow to collar dangerous dog owners

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THE city’s new leaders have pledged to hit dangerous dog owners with Asbos after it emerged officials have failed to hand out a single dog control notice since being given tough new powers last year.

Labour community safety spokesman Bill Cook said the new administration would crack down on owners whose dogs terrorise communities.

High-rise residents in particular are plagued by aggressive dogs on walkways and in lifts, but community safety officers have not issued any dog Asbos since they were given the power to do so last August.

Council officials deal with around 75 cases of nuisance or disturbance caused by dogs every year, a number of which are persistent offenders.

In some instances, Asbos ban owners from certain areas or face prosecution.

Figures released to Labour, which formed a new coalition administration on Tuesday, also found just 0.2 per cent of the total 6400 antisocial behaviour investigations led to Asbos being issued.

Councillor Cook also said that there is no communication between Lothian and Borders Police and the city council regarding breaches of the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Cllr Cook, who has represented residents from tower blocks in Gilmerton where aggressive dogs are let loose, said: “We have a problem with dog owners and this is an example of something, which we already have the power to do, which would improve many people’s lives.

“Labour, along with our partners, will be seeking to promote the use of such tools to tackle these problems.”

In December, the News told how five people were hospitalised after a 15-stone Johnson pitbull went on the rampage at Cables Wynd House, Leith.

All tenants sign a document which states no dogs are allowed in high rises, but the ban has not been enforced since 1997.

Cllr Cook said that many residents are afraid to speak to the police or council officers.

He said: “When you have a complex issue like this, there is no single silver bullet to solve the problem, but we can begin by enforcing the rules and using the powers we have.”

In March, Kirsty Chatwood, chair of the residents association at Cables Wynd House, told councillors there was a significant minority of tenants whose dogs were aggressive.

In response, a council spokesman said although no Asbos had been handed out, many of the cases had been resolved to the satisfaction of the complainer and that voluntary dog agreements had been put in place in two cases.

He added: “Tackling antisocial behaviour is a priority for this council, which is shown by an annual drop of 24 per cent in complaints to the council regarding this problem.”

rory.reynolds@edinburghnews.com