National Farmers' Union Scotland (NFUS) has called for council officials to make better use of Dog Control Notices (DCNs).

The union said the notices remain "chronically underutilised" in many areas, and as a result, the 2010 Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act had been "ineffective" in reducing the number of dog attacks in Scotland.

Over the six months from December until the end of May, 21 out 32 local councils in Scotland issued no Dog Control Notices for livestock worrying, while another seven only issued one.

These figures, which were published in response to an FOI request made by the union, highlight just how underused Dog Control Notices are in the majority of local authorities in Scotland.

'A blight on Scottish agriculture'

NFU Scotland policy manager Gemma Cooper said: “NFU Scotland is very supportive of the aim of the 2010 Dog Control Act which is to ensure that dogs which are out control are brought and kept under control, by tackling irresponsible dog ownership.

“However, figures on the number of dog attacks on livestock for the past five years show that the number of attacks remains far too high despite public awareness raising and partnership working.

The 2010 Act introduced Dog Control Notices, but because these have been chronically underused they have not had a positive impact in terms of reducing livestock worrying.

"Local Authorities have a statutory duty to issue these and to monitor their effectiveness, but NFUS is very concerned that this does not seem to have occurred.

“The 2010 Act also made provision for Scottish Government to introduce a national database of Dog Control Notices. NFU Scotland is not aware that this has occurred and feels that this must be an underpinning component of any new framework which is implemented to tackle this blight on Scottish agriculture.”

It comes after South Scotland Member of Scottish Parliament Emma Harper recently announced that she will bring forward a proposal for a Members' Bill on the issue.