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Dog Owners Asked to Keep Clear of Sheep During Lambing Season

Photo Credit: Helena Lopes

Dog owners are being reminded by police in Highland Perthshire that it is an offence to worry animals on farmland.

Now is a crucial time in the year for local farmers as Lambing beings, and dog owners are being reminded that their pets can be destroyed if they are troubling sheep at this time.

Chief inspector, Graham Binnie, said: “With lambing season rapidly approaching, I would like to remind dog walkers of their responsibilities with regard to keeping their pets on a lead when they are near sheep.

“Dog owners have a clear responsibility to ensure their pets are under control and this is made clear in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, especially when there are pregnant ewes and young lambs in the fields.

“If your pets chase or worry sheep, you are likely to get prosecuted and you could lose your dog.”

Animals who are worried by dogs can in some cases abort their lambs before they give birth which causes numerous troubles for farmers.

NFU Scotland North East Regional Manager Lorna Paterson explained: “Such incidents not only cause obvious suffering to sheep and cattle, but they also have a financial, emotional and time impact on our members and their families and cause significant upset.

“Our farmers put hard labour into nurturing their sheep and cattle, taking real pride in their work. These attacks by dogs are not inevitable and are down to the irresponsible behaviour of their owners.

“We desperately want people to visit and enjoy spending time in our rural countryside, but we do ask that they remember that all farms are working environments and must be respected by everyone accessing them.”

Inspector Binnie added: “Chasing by dogs can do serious damage to livestock, even if the dog doesn’t catch them. The stress of chasing/worrying by dogs can cause animals to die and pregnant stock to miscarry.

“Livestock fleeing from dogs are often killed or seriously injured by their panicked attempts to escape, often causing significant collateral damage to fences and field boundaries in the process.

“In some circumstances farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs if they are endangering their sheep. Therefore it is vital that you keep your dog on the lead around livestock.

“In the last few years there have been a number of prosecutions across Perth & Kinross under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 and several dogs have been destroyed; please make sure it’s not your dog.”

More information on protecting your dog can be found on:

https://www.nfus.org.uk/userfiles/images/Campaigns/Access/A%20Farmers%20Guide%20%20Livestock%20Worrying%20-%20A5.pdf

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