Scots launch new clampdown on livestock worrying

A five-month multi-agency campaign to highlight the reality of livestock attacks and trauma by dogs has been launched by the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC).

The aim of the campaign – Your Dog, Your Responsibility – is to ensure dog owners understand the distressing nature as well as emotional and financial effects such incidents can have, not just on farmers but everyone having to deal with the aftermath.

Experience has shown that livestock attacks often occur when dog owners are not present. Owners are reminded that they must take responsibility for the actions of their dogs.

See also: The law on shooting dogs – critical facts farmers should know

Gemma Cooper, NFU Scotland’s head of policy, said: “There is no excuse for dog owners allowing their dogs to worry livestock. The trauma and suffering caused by livestock worrying is a real and growing issue for the agricultural industry.

“NFU Scotland is pleased to be a part of this campaign. I am hopeful that by continuing to raise awareness of this problem, and the impact it can have, we can encourage the general public to make sure they are responsible for their dogs.” 

Chief superintendent John McKenzie, who chairs SPARC, added: “Further work needs to be done in highlighting not just the message about an owner or person responsible keeping a dog on a lead if there is livestock nearby, but a more general awareness message regarding responsible dog ownership, both in the home and when outside.”

Hard-hitting message

Over the next few months, local events will be held around Scotland concluding in May at Conic Hill, Balmaha, which is located within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

It is hoped that having a harder-hitting message that reaches communities throughout Scotland will encourage farmers and landowners to report all instances of attacks and trauma to their animals.

SPARC is made up of partners from across the rural community, including Police Scotland, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and NFU Mutual. This new campaign complements work being done by rural organisations to combat livestock worrying and the impact it can have on farmers and landowners.

How farmers can prevent dog attacks on their livestock

Here are some steps farmers can take to help prevent attacks on livestock from dogs.

You should:

  • Check stock regularly in case any have been attacked
  • When possible keep sheep in fields away from footpaths
  • Put up signs warning dog owners to keep their pets under control on your land
  • Maintain fences, walls and hedges to make it more difficult for dogs to get into grazing fields
  • Report any attacks to the police immediately
  • Ask neighbours to alert you if they see attacks or loose dogs near your livestock.

Source: NFU Mutual

What should you do if you encounter a dog attacking your livestock?

The National Sheep Association offers farmers the following advice:

  • Stay safe —dogs attacking animals can turn on humans so it’s important to take care and keep your distance. Throwing a toy could help distract the dog.
  • Collect evidence — if possible, use your phone to video or photograph the attack. This could be useful evidence for police and the courts to identify the dog’s owner.
  • Document the aftermath — take photographs of any injuries to your animals. If ewes prolapse or abort get photographic evidence of this too.
  • Contact the police — you should call 999 and report an attack if it is taking place or 101 if an attack has happened but the dog is no longer in the area. Reporting livestock worrying incidents will help police build a true picture of the number of attacks which take place.
See more