AN SNP councillor is hoping that welfare reforms could provide a pathway to reducing problems caused by anti-social dog owners.
Arbroath East and Lunan SNP councillor Donald Morrison has been in talks with council officers and Ian Robb from Angus Dog Rescue on how to reduce instances of Angus Council tenants with problem dogs.
One possible way according to the councillor is to work more stringent controls into new tenancy agreements which will come about with the advent of the Universal Credit scheme in 2014.
He explained: “Any new tenant will have to change their tenancy agreement because the council will be taking their benefit at source.
“As time goes on, existing tenants will have to set up new tenancy agreements and this is when I’d like to put something in about pets.
“Anyone who owns a pet which is well trained, as pets should be, will not have any problems.”
Current Angus Council guidance for dog owners states: “If your dog causes a nuisance to others and a complaint is received, the housing visitor, following discussions with the dog warden, will contact you to discuss the matter and offer advice if appropriate.
“If the council is satisfied that the complaint against your dog has been proved, you will be advised in writing of the action you must take to avoid future repeated incidents.
“You will be allowed seven days in which to reply outlining the steps you are willing to take to solve the problem. If after 14 days you fail to respond or you are either unwilling or unable to solve the issue, we may withdraw permission to keep a dog.”
Asked what future consequences might be for nuisance dog owners, Councillor Morrison suggested they would be looking to expand on this, but the punishment would fit the crime.
He said: “It depends on what happened. I can’t discuss that because it will be decided on a case by case basis. An option could be to take the right away to keep pets.
“I’m still in discussions with officers and we’re still waiting on information from the Department of Work and Pensions on how it will all happen.
“Communities must feel safe in their own homes and pets as well. Pets are members of the family too.”
Ian Robb from Angus Dog Rescue is happy to see progress being made on this issue. He said: “Donald Morrison did a fantastic job at the time to support our charity right to the hilt.
“This is just a fantastic step, I’m just full of admiration for the senior executives who have made this decision.”
Anyone who experiences problems with neighbours with nuisance dogs should contact Tayside Police and officers at Angus Council’s housing department.