Scottish kids at risk from mad dog attacks, MSPs warn

A RADICAL overhaul of dog control laws is needed to prevent attacks on children, MSPs have said.

Thursday, 18th July 2019, 8:08 am

Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee found a failure to enforce current rules governing dog ownership and too few dog wardens.

Victims told of horrific attacks and called for urgent reform from the Scottish Government to prevent future tragedies.

“Dog law in Scotland is not fit for purpose,” said committee convener Jenny Marra, announcing the findings of the report.

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Veronica Lynch, whose daughter was killed in a dog attack in 1989. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Veronica Lynch, whose daughter was killed in a dog attack in 1989. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

“There are still far too many dog attacks on children and little enforcement or understanding of the current laws that might prevent these attacks.

“It has become clear that current dog control law doesn’t work. It needs to be reformed urgently so that out-of-control and dangerous dogs can be dealt with properly and we can try to move to a system that prevents our children being injured by dogs.”

The committee argued in its report the effectiveness of the 2010 Control of Dogs Act is restricted by both a lack of resources for councils and public awareness of current laws.

A shortage of dog wardens was also highlighted, as was the “unacceptable” failure of the government to establish a Scottish dog control database.

The committee is recommending GPs, hospitals, local authorities and police record and collect data relating to all reported dog attacks.

Councils, meanwhile, should create secure play areas for children where all dogs are banned.

MSPs are also calling for an “immediate and overdue awareness campaign” about the current laws, to inform people about the guidelines for dog ownership.

MSPs heard hours of witness testimony from parents and dog owners who have been traumatised by attacks.

Yet the lack of information held about dog attacks and injuries was described as a “significant barrier” in their investigation.

Mothers of attacked children called for the outlawing of pets off their leads in public with one describing how “nothing has changed” since her daughter was fatally mauled by two Rottweilers.

Veronica Lynch said: “When Kelly died, the laws were ineffective – nothing happened to anybody.

“The owner stupidly allowed his daughter and my daughter to take two massive Rottweilers out. Their combined weight was something like 19 stone and Kelly weighed four-and-a-half stone.

“She didn’t stand a chance. Thirty years on from Kelly’s death we are still reading the same headlines. Nothing has changed and we have to get something done.”