Fresh warning over sheep worrying concerns

A renewed plea has been made for dog owners to ensure their pets are under control at all times when livestock is nearby.

The call comes as new research by the NFU found almost three quarters of dog owners across the country allow their pets to roam off-lead in the countryside.

The figures claim 73 per cent of dog-owners let their pets go while out on a walk, compared with 64 per cent a year ago.

Around half (49 per cent) say their dog does not always come back when called.

The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2021 came into force in November 2021 to bring in tougher powers, following years of campaigning by police and farmers after sharp increases in attacks on farm animals by out-of-control dogs.

Dog owners could be fined up to £40,000 if their dog attacked livestock.

Last month local policy officer for the NFU, Lorna Scott, told The Shetland Times the need for care was all the more important as lambing approached.

She told Landwise: “Sheep worrying has been an ongoing problem across the country, but of increasing concern in Shetland particularly through the pandemic.

Rebecca Davidson, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “It’s hard for people to imagine that their affectionate, family pet could injure or kill another animal and it’s not only physical attacks that can harm livestock.

“Even if a small dog chases sheep and they don’t make contact, they can separate lambs from their mothers or the distress and exhaustion from the chase can cause a pregnant ewe to die or miscarry.

“There’s a new generation of dog owners whose pandemic puppies are coming of age and they simply don’t know how their dog is going to behave around livestock.”

Speaking about the new Bill, Inspector Alan Dron, Police Scotland national rural crime co-ordinator, said: “Attacks on livestock by dogs is an emotive issue that impacts on rural communities throughout Scotland therefore Police Scotland welcomes this new legislation which can hopefully assist in preventing, reducing and tackling such instances.”


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