Dog control legislation is “not fit for purpose”, according to a Scottish Parliament committee.
New laws were introduced in Scotland in 2010 but MSPs heard evidence there was still an “unacceptably high prevalence of dog attacks”.
Holyrood’s post-legislative scrutiny committee said they considered it to be “nothing less than a national crisis”.
MSPs said the impact on victims, particularly on children, could be life-changing.
Dog control notices
The Control of Dogs Act 2010 was introduced to promote responsible dog ownership but the committee said it was not working.
Its report called on the Scottish government to undertake a comprehensive review of all dog control laws immediately.
Committee convener Jenny Marra said: “There are still far too many dog attacks on children and little enforcement or understanding of the current laws that might prevent these attacks.”
She called for urgent reform so that dangerous dogs can be dealt with properly.
The 2010 brought in a new regime of “dog control notices” to impose measures on the people who do not keep their dog under control.
It gave Scottish ministers the power to establish a national database of dog control notices so information could be shared across the country.
The MSPs said the failure of ministers to use its powers was a “missed opportunity”.
They also said there were too few dog control wardens to enforce the current law and a lack of awareness of how it worked.
The committee said that police, hospitals and local authorities were not keeping consistent data on dog attacks.
Earlier this year, the Holyrood Committee heard that thousands of people are treated each year by hospital emergency departments for dog-related injuries.
Claire Booth, a mother-of three from Bishopton, described an attack on her son Ryan by two dogs when he was six years old.
Ms Booth was with her son, collecting chestnuts in a local park, when a white bull terrier knocked him to the ground and attacked him.
Another bull terrier then joined the attack, she said.
“It was carnage at the scene. They covered his whole body and when I got to him his ear was hanging off.”
Ryan is permanently disfigured and has to go through three more surgical operations.
He cannot enter a park and Ms Booth said he had lost his childhood.
The owner was prosecuted and received the maximum community service sentence. One dog was destroyed, but the other was given a control order which was never followed up.
The committee also heard from Radio Clyde journalist Natalie Crawford who initiated a campaign to keep dogs on leads in public places.
She discovered that Glasgow City Council – Scotland’s largest local authority – until recently had just one part-time dog warden and that there had been no dog control notices issued in a three-year period.