Scottish Borders Council is increasing the number of dog control orders it hands out following a critical report revealing it had only issued five in a year.
Figures revealed via a freedom-of-information request showed that in 2016-2017 the local authority received 100 complaints about out-of-control dogs but gave just six advisory notices and five control orders to irresponsible owners.
However, following a meeting with Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame, the council has revealed it has handed out 15 dog control notices over the last 12 months, with two still pending.
Ms Grahame, responsible for introducing the 2010 Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act as a member’s bill, said: “I had a very useful discussion with representatives from Scottish Borders Council, and it was important to hear first-hand how this legislation is being used in practice.
“In the last year, there have been 15 dog control notices, with two pending, although there are some issues with obtaining owner details. Some owners just need to be spoken to and advised of their responsibilities.”
Dog control orders allow the council to impose certain conditions on owners. For example, a dog which frequently runs away might be required to be kept on a lead at all times or an aggressive dog might have to be muzzled when in public spaces.
The control orders can also be used to compel dog owners to seek training for themselves and their pet. Failure to adhere to a dog control order could lead to a ban from keeping animals or the dog being put down.
A council spokesperson said: “The council is currently reviewing its responsible dog ownership strategy, which will aim to remind owners of their social and legal responsibilities.
“As part of this strategy, the council works in partnership with local and national charities to promote responsible ownership and dog control by educating the public at various events across the Borders.
“The council responds to all complaints received concerning out-of-control dogs, but in order to assist us in investigating each complaint fully, we ideally require the dog owner’s details.
“Members of the public can contact 0300 100 1800 or visit www.scotborders.gov.uk if they have a concern about a dog’s behaviour.”
Ms Grahame added: “My main concern is that members of the public may not be aware that if a dog’s behaviour is causing concern – for example, being allowed to be out of control – they can report it to the council through this route.
“The police, of course, deal with the most serious incidents. However, I brought in my bill establishing dog control notices as a way of intervening before a dog bites or attacks and becomes dangerous.
“Once a dog control notice is issued, the council will regularly check up to ensure it’s being followed.
“I would encourage anyone concerned about a dog’s behaviour whether in public, in its garden or indeed any other private place to get in touch with the council. This is in the interests of the public, the owner and indeed the dog itself.”