"Intimidating" dog experience convinces MSP to support review

Liam Kerr MSP
Liam Kerr MSP

An “intimidating” experience with an out-of-control dog at a North East tourist attraction has underlined the need for more robust legislation.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr has backed calls for a post-legislative review of the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010, including the degree to which the Act is being enforced by local authorities.

Mr Kerr spoke about his own experiences during a Members’ Debate brought by MSP Alex Neill.

The North East region MSP said he was well-used to bites and threatening pet behaviour when going door to door on the campaign trail.

But it was one recent visit to Tyrebagger, near Inverurie, which made all too real the terrifying statistics surrounding children and dog attacks.

“It is excellent and a wonderful place to spend the day,” he said.

“But as we walked round that day, I was struck by the number of excited dogs on the loose, barking, bounding, play fighting and jumping up and getting my jeans dirty.

“That was intimidating enough for my five-year-old, but it was even more intimidating when one started to stalk her.

“It crouched, growling, about 18 feet behind her and began padding towards her. Then it broke wide to get her from the side that I was not on. I picked her up and we waited until it went past.

“Shortly after, as the owners walked past, they chuckled and said, ‘Don’t mind him—he’s only playing. He always does that.’

“Does he, indeed? How often does he have to do it before my daughter or someone else’s daughter ends up in the sort of briefing that we have received for the debate?

“Such behaviour is irresponsible, inappropriate and inconsiderate.

“If owners will not voluntarily control their dogs, whether in the home or outside, they need to be compelled.”

An MSP briefing included “heartbreaking” statistics from a recent Clyde News investigation that found 205 children were taken to A&E due to dog bites between January and June 2017.

Mr Kerr also highlighted the psychological effects of dog attacks on the likes of Royal Mail workers.

But securing a prosecution in Scotland seems to be much harder than in the rest of the UK.

He added: “The statistics are terrifying and it is clear from the briefings, today’s speeches and bitter experience that something is not working.”