Key agencies across Scotland are teaming up to tackle dogs attacking livestock as part of new legislation.
They’re cracking down on dogs worrying and harming animals under farmers care by highlighting the new legislation which could see fines up to £40,000 and prison sentences for offending owners.
Police Scotland, NFU Scotland and campaigners are putting the spot light on the news laws which were supported by the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) and introduced in November of last year.
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.
“Its introduction is timely given the increase in dog ownership experienced during COVID and the aim of the campaign is designed to educate and raise awareness amongst dog owners, whether new or experienced, that their dog is very much their responsibility.”
NFU Scotland held a survey which found that only 4% of people knew they could face a £40,000 fine and 22% knew that they could be sent to prison if their dog attacked livestock.
Mark McBrearty, Regional Manager for Scotland at NFU Mutual, said: “Dog attacks are causing appalling suffering to animals and huge anxiety for farmers and crofters as they deal with the aftermath. The new legislation is a huge step forward as it means farmers and police are able to trace offending dogs’ owners and impose serious penalties.
“We’re supporting the ‘Your Dog – Your Responsibility’ campaign to spread the message about the new law and encourage irresponsible dog owners to control their pets. We want people to enjoy the countryside as it’s so important for people’s wellbeing. It’s vital that dog owners act responsibly and keep dogs under control whenever there is a possibility that livestock are nearby.”
They’re survey also found that 64% of UK dog owners let their pets roam free in the countryside, despite half admitting their dog doesn’t always come back when called.
NFU Scotland Rural Business Policy Adviser Rhianna Montgomery said: “NFUS is delighted to be involved in this campaign. With hundreds of incidents across Scotland each year, the protection of livestock is paramount for our members. The new Bill gives greatly enhanced powers to tackle this blight. Working closely with other stakeholders, informing and educating the public of good practice when taking access in the countryside with dogs, and the penalties now in place for those who are irresponsible, is imperative in reducing the number of livestock attacks.”