Farm leaders have called on local authorities to make better use of Dog Control Notices (DCNs).
In a submission to Holyrood’s public audit and post legislative scrutiny committee, NFU Scotland (NFUS) said DCNs – issued to dog owners whose animals were found to be “out of control” – were under-utilised.
The union said the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 was ineffective in reducing the number of out-of-control dogs, and dog attacks in Scotland. Its submission to the committee included evidence from a recent case of livestock worrying, and data from a Freedom of Information request.
The data shows that in the six-months between December 2017 and May this year, 21 out of 32 councils in Scotland issued no DCNs for livestock worrying, while another seven only issued one.
NFUS policy manager Gemma Cooper said: “NFU Scotland is very supportive of the aim of the 2010 Dog Control Act which is to ensure that dogs which are out of control are brought and kept under control, by tackling irresponsible dog ownership.”
She said the number of dog attacks on livestock remained far too high, despite efforts to raise public awareness and partnership working.
“The 2010 Act introduced Dog Control Notices, but because these have been chronically under-used they have not had a positive impact in terms of reducing livestock worrying,” she said.
“Local authorities have a statutory duty to issue these, and to monitor their effectiveness, but NFUS is very concerned that this does not seem to have occurred.
“The 2010 Act also made provision for Scottish Government to introduce a national database of Dog Control Notices.
“NFU Scotland is not aware that this has occurred and feels that this must be an underpinning component of any new framework which is implemented to tackle this blight on Scottish agriculture.”