Thank you, Presiding Officer.
The question is—does the Royal Mail have a role to play in treating the psychological effects? I certainly think that it is worth looking at, but what the member has done, very importantly, is to highlight the psychological effects of dog attacks. It has been clear from the evidence and indeed tonight’s debate just how considerable those psychological impacts can be.
While I was jotting down some notes for the debate, I looked back at the figures that Mr Neil put in the motion, particularly in relation to children being bitten, and then I got the absolutely heartbreaking briefing about children being injured in dog attacks. Around a year ago, I took my young family to Tyrebagger, near Inverurie. According to its website, it is
“a place to enjoy the grandeur and peace of a mature forest”,
with specific routes designed for toddlers and buggies as well as for cycling and horse riding. It is excellent and a wonderful place to spend the day, but as we walked round that day, I was struck by the number of excited dogs on the loose, barking, bounding, play fighting and jumping up and getting my jeans dirty. That was intimidating enough for my five-year-old, but it was even more intimidating when one started to stalk her. It crouched, growling, about 18 feet behind her and began padding towards her. Then it broke wide to get her from the side that I was not on. I picked her up and we waited until it went past. Shortly after, as the owners walked past, they chuckled and said, “Don’t mind him—he’s only playing. He always does that.” Does he, indeed? How often does he have to do it before my daughter or someone else’s daughter ends up in the sort of briefing that we have received for the debate? Such behaviour is irresponsible, inappropriate and inconsiderate.
If owners will not voluntarily control their dogs, whether in the home or outside, they need to be compelled. Therefore, Alex Neil’s motion is absolutely spot on. The statistics are terrifying and it is clear from the briefings, today’s speeches and bitter experience that something is not working. The sooner Mr Neil’s call for a review and more robust legislation is heeded, the better.