Tenants targeted after a spate of high-rise attacks

Kirsty Chatwood and Gordon Munro

Kirsty Chatwood and Gordon Munro

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OUT-of-control dogs running riot in high-rise blocks are to be targeted under a new crackdown, with their owners facing eviction.

Council chiefs have agreed to act in the wake of a spate of incidents, including a case in Leith which saw five people taken to hospital after being attacked by a pitbull.

Residents and councillors are not pushing for an outright ban, but want problem owners to be rooted out.

Tenants from Cables Wynd House said children were now too afraid to play in the park, and even described an incident last week in which they had to forcibly restrain a dog after it knocked over a six-year-old.

Every tenant living in a council high-rise signs a document agreeing not to keep a dog. However, rules have been relaxed since 1997 meaning that dogs are commonplace.

Kirsty Chatwood, chair of the residents and tenants association at Cables Wynd House, told councillors on the housing committee that there was a significant minority whose dogs were aggressive.

She said: “We want the council to have a clear and enforceable policy so we don’t have incidents like the dog who attacked five people.

“Children should be able to play in the park without fearing they will be chased by dogs.”

Asked if there had been any attacks since the incident in December, she told councillors that she had been involved in a dog attack on the way to the council meeting.

She said: “This morning I was in the lift and we had a Staffie whose owner isn’t capable of dealing with a dog. It cut away from him and knocked a six-year-old down.

“My neighbour was stuck [in the lift] with a screaming child. In the end, I pushed it down and held it by the collar so we could get the children out. This is a daily occurrence in Cables Wynd House.”

Leith councillor Gordon Munro, whose motion to explore how to deal with the problem was approved, said: “We’ve heard from residents at Cables Wynd House but this situation will be replicated throughout the city.

“We’re not proposing an outright ban. There’s a difference between Darren the drug dealer with the Doberman and Winnie the widow with the Westie.”

Advising councillors on the issue, Mark Turley, director of the services for communities department, said previous attempts to evict problem owners had not always succeeded.

He added: “The courts are very reluctant to evict solely because of a [dangerous] dog. That shouldn’t prevent us seeking an eviction from the courts.”

Cathy King, head of housing at the city council, said officials would consult with tenants associations to determine what action should be taken and would report back to councillors.