Jenny Marra MSP : Compulsory Microchipping of Dogs

Speech in the Scottish Parliament debate


 

12 September 2013

I thank my colleague Claire Baker for bringing this important topic to the chamber for debate.

I will pick up on a couple of the points that Christine Grahame raised—I am sorry that she is no longer in the chamber.

I congratulate her on the bill that she introduced in 2009 on dog control notices, which became the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010, but I wonder if it is perhaps now time to review that legislation.

Kenny Gibson called the dog control notice process “lengthy and fruitless”.

Community safety wardens are responsible for issuing dog control notices—that is in the power of local authorities—but the evidence from the ones I have spoken to in my communities in Dundee is that they are not aware that dog control is within their power, and they think that it is within police power.

I am about to address something awful, to which I think Nanette Milne alluded, which happened in Angus this summer.

It is my understanding that Angus Council has issued no dog control notices whatever, despite the fact that there was a terrible attack.

I say respectfully to the minister that, although I know that the 2010 legislation was very well intended and a thorough consultation was done, we need to consider the act’s effectiveness.

 I come to this issue because some of the communities that I represent, and especially the most deprived communities in our country, have real issues with dangerous dogs, in particular some breeds of very dangerous dogs that are let out, roam the streets and attack children.

It was in August this year that 13-year-old Amy Adams was in a park in Arbroath when she was attacked by a stray Staffordshire bull terrier.

The experience was terrifying in itself, but Amy sustained a puncture wound to her hand, which became infected.

She was in surgery for four hours.

She was first treated at Arbroath royal infirmary, but the infection travelled up her arm and she was rushed to Ninewells hospital in Dundee to see the specialist plastic surgery team.

 Amy’s story is by no means unique.

In May this year, a 13-year-old boy was rushed to hospital after being attacked by a dog in a home in my home city of Dundee.

It is also very difficult to forget the story of 10-year-old Rhianna Kidd, who was attacked by two Rottweilers as she played on her bike in Dryburgh in my home city in 2010.

 Irresponsible dog owners are a threat to our communities.

The psychological consequences of a dog attack, as Malcolm Chisholm said, can last long after physical recovery, especially for young children.

I am supporting Claire Baker’s motion today because I believe that compulsory microchipping could help to tackle dangerous dog attacks by creating a culture of more responsible dog ownership.

By providing a clear line of accountability from dog to owner, it could help to reduce the number of dogs that go stray, like the dog that attacked Amy.

It could also help the police to trace those dogs that become dangerous back to their owners.

Microchipping is, of course, not an answer in itself, and it will not stop dangerous dog attacks, but it could help by encouraging responsible behaviour and keeping children safe from harm.

I support the motion, and I ask the minister whether he will consider examining the 2010 act and perhaps applying post-legislative scrutiny to it—and whether he will look into how many dog control orders are being issued and how effective they are.

 

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