A SURGE in incidents involving dangerous dogs has led to councillors to call on the Scottish Government to introduce tough new laws to crack down on out-of-control pets.
Renfrewshire Council, in response to a consultation on promoting responsible dog ownership in Scotland, backed the introduction of compulsory microchipping, which is the subject of a consultation that will inform national policy on the issue.
But the local authority, in a document councillors will be asked to approve on Wednesday, has said microchipping is likely to represent "only part of the solution" and has called for a package of new rules to tackle irresponsible owners to be considered.
Suggestions made by the council include charging dog owners to join a licensing scheme that would incorporate a compulsory code of conduct and dog training classes, increased fines for dog fouling, beefed-up enforcement and a stipulation that professional dog walkers should be registered.
It also argues new powers to tackle the issue of problem dogs, such as bans on walking animals in areas where fouling is a common problem, should be handed to local authorities and that fines could be extended to owners who are found not to be carrying bags to clean up mess.
Since the implementation of the Control of Dogs Act in 2011, Renfrewshire Council said reports of nuisance and out of control dogs had more than tripled. In 2011/12 just 32 cases were reported, rising to 78 in 2012/13 and 101 so far in the current financial year. In the past 11 months, 20 Dog Control Notices have been issued in Renfrewshire, five more than were given out in 2012/13.
A council spokesman said: "Renfrewshire Council has carefully considered the proposals contained in the consultation on promoting responsible dog ownership. In the last three years we have seen a significant increase in the number of reports we have received about dogs causing a nuisance or being out of control.
"The response that councillors will consider takes these factors into account."
Victoria Brownlie, public affairs manager for the Kennel Club, backed the use of compulsory microchipping but argued further measures such as licensing for owners were unnecessary.
"In Scotland, there are already Dog Control Notices for problem dogs," she said. "It's good legislation but the implementation has been a bit of a mess.
"Licensing has been tried in the past and was abolished as there was less than 50% compliance. We don't think we need anything more than what is there already, apart from compulsory microchipping."
The Dogs Trust backed microchipping, saying it brought multiple welfare benefits, but condemned licensing as "a tax on responsible dog owners". The charity said it had concerns over other questions in the Government consultation, including one around the compulsory muzzling of dogs in public places.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The consultation closes at the end of March. Once the views expressed in response to the consultation have been analysed, we will consider carefully these views before making decisions about next steps."