Dog owners across Argyll and Bute are being urged to ensure they comply with new legislation which came into force earlier this year.
The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 is designed to ensure that communities are protected from dogs which are out of control and to tackle irresponsible dog ownership.
Argyll and Bute Council’s Streetscene team recently issued its first dog control notice (DCN) to a Dunoon resident who had repeatedly failed to keep their animal under control.
Under the notice, the owner is required not only to keep the dog under control but also to have a microchip implanted in the animal within 14 days (if it does not already have one) as a means of identifying both the dog and its owner.
Officers also have the power to include other measures on the notice if appropriate, such as muzzling the dog whenever it is in a public place, keeping it on a lead, neutering a male dog and attending a training course in dog control.
Failure to comply with any aspect of the DCN could lead to a fine of up to £1,000, an order disqualifying the individual from owning a dog for a specific period of time and – if the court considers the dog is dangerous – an order for its destruction.
The focus of the new legislation is the ‘deed not the breed’ approach. Any dog has the potential to be the subject of a notice, whatever its size or breed.
Councillor Daniel Kelly, chair of the planning, protective services and licensing committee, said the issuing of such a notice would always be a last resort.
“This is something our officers will do only when all other avenues have been exhausted. But dog owners should be quite clear that we will not hesitate to use the powers we have been given if we deem it necessary,” he added.
“Irresponsible dog owners and their animals are often the scourge of their communities, and out of control dogs are not just a public nuisance but can create genuine fear and anxiety for local residents.
“The legislation is primarily aimed at the owners, rather than the dogs. If owners can be persuaded to change their behaviour before their dogs become dangerous, then the behaviour of the dogs will also improve.”