I HAVE kept dogs for more than 40 years – flat-coat retriever, springer (rescue), mutt and currently a Blue Marl sheepdog (rescue).

While your columnist writing about “dangerous dogs” tried to be even-handed, there are a few inaccuracies in Kirsty Strickland’s account.

Starting with a return to dog licensing. Under current law in Scotland, all dog owners are required to have their dogs chipped and pinned. The PDSA offers a service to homeless people with dogs to have them chipped and pinned which is in turn a de facto “dog license”.

My new rescue is deaf and had a traumatic three years of being bullied by another dog in his run as his owner’s relationship fell apart. I was told the sheepdog was violent and would attack other dogs on sight, so needed a muzzle at all times.

So it was with some trepidation that I introduced my mutt, a Yorkie/Jack Russell cross called Dillon, to Ozzie. We three went for a walk together and at no point did Ozzie offer violence to Dillon. Ozzie’s owner was surprised as she always had trouble with him so he came home with us, Dillon established the house rules and Ozzie has followed them ever since.

We had some problems at first and I did start with a muzzle on Ozzie, as recommended by his previous owner, but what I saw was a stressed, scared dog, drooling and tense at all times ready to fight or flight.

He is deaf, he misses out on the normal range of barks dogs give if they want to play or play gets too rough. Imagine if you are a toddler, deaf from birth and you go to nursery, for the first time, with kids yelling and screaming all around you.

I have it on good authority from a friend who has always been profoundly deaf, it is terrifying. Why should it be any different for a deaf dog?

I ditched the muzzle and worked patiently with Ozzie using touch and hand signals.

Now if he is off the lead and sees a dog coming he sits down and waits for me to put his lead on then he lies down beside me, still a bit anxious, until the other dog goes past.

So contrary to what I was told he is not a “violent dog” he is just a frightened dog and with reassurance he is just fine with other dogs and has even come round to trusting and playing with dogs he regularly meets on our walks.

So the view that “all dogs should be muzzled” is poorly informed and could make some dogs worse. On the other hand I am the Vulnerable Persons Officer for my golf club and we are having problems with a neighbouring dog to the course.

This dog has physically attacked one of our older members causing injury requiring hospital treatment and associated distress. The local council put a restriction order on the dog requiring it to be on a lead, muzzle and under the owners’ control at all times if it is taken out of its dog run. The owners have basically ignored the order, the dog has been reported barking violently at golfers on the course boundary on a number of occasions to their distress.

The problem has been running since May of 2023 yet the local Council Dog Control Officer has no powers to impound the dog if the order is breached as under the Dangerous Dog’s Act those powers are reserved for the courts.

My problem is on a Saturday morning our Junior section has around twenty boys and girls 12 and under playing golf and what would I say to a Mum whose child had been mauled by this dog or worse, if it gets on the course once again?

We have reported breaches of the restriction order to the Council on more than 15 occasions? I am sure that would console a distressed and angry Mum and Dad.

The member who was attacked has pressed for a criminal prosecution and after many false starts, sitting on hands and other delaying tactics by the dog’s owners the case is now being taken forward by the Fiscal’s Office to the Sheriff Court.

To the 90% of dog owners, who have had their dogs chipped, pick up dog poo and love dogs the solution is simple – if your dog attacks another human you have it put down the same day.

An attack is very different to a quick defensive bite which any dog may make in response to being hurt, scared or tormented by other humans big or small. Yes it will hurt, there may be some bruising but it is unlikely any skin will be broken or any real damage done.

The bottom line is the 5% of dog owners at both ends of the spectrum who have decided the rule of law does not apply to them because they are either very rich and will blame their security contractor or the keeper of the local hounds or game-keeper if things go wrong while at the other end a dog with attitude can be very useful if you are looking to secure repayments of loan shark payday loans for your “boss”.

All law is only effective if it is policed and enforced, if the resources are not in place to police and enforce a law, then the law is ineffective and unenforceable which is sadly the case in many, well-meaning, recent laws or revisions put forward and agreed at either Holyrood or Westminster over the last decade – whether on dogs or refugees.

Peter Thomson