Dan­ger alert to dog own­ers

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Po­lice have launched a month-long cam­paign to urge dog own­ers to keep their pets on leads to pre­vent sheep wor­ry­ing.

The cam­paign is high­light­ing the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects of live­stock wor­ry­ing and co­in­cides with a rise in sheep at­tacks by dogs dur­ing Novem­ber when sheep are brought down to low-ly­ing pas­ture where more peo­ple ex­er­cise their dogs or dogs are al­lowed to roam free.

The move comes just days after a farmer caught a loose dog wor­ry­ing sheep on a farm near Blair­gowrie.

Dogs chas­ing sheep can cause se­ri­ous dam­age or in­jury. Even if the dog does not catch them, the stress caused can kill sheep. In some cir­cum­stances farm­ers are legally en­ti­tled to shoot dogs if they are en­dan­ger­ing their live­stock.

The Scot­tish Part­ner­ship Against Ru­ral Crime, which in­cludes Po­lice Scot­land, the Na­tional Farm­ers Union of Scot­land and Scot­tish Land and Es­tates, is work­ing with Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage, the Ken­nel Club and the Na­tional Sheep As­so­ci­a­tion (Scot­land) to pro­mote re­spon­si­ble dog walk­ing in the coun­try­side.

In­spec­tor Jane Donaldson said: “Ru­ral dog own­ers and those who choose to ex­er­cise their dogs in the coun­try­side must en­sure they are un­der con­trol at all times and try to avoid go­ing into fields where live­stock is graz­ing.

“The wor­ry­ing of sheep and other live­stock by dogs not only has an ob­vi­ous fi­nan­cial and emo­tional im­pact on farm­ers when their an­i­mals are killed or in­jured but also has an ef­fect on the an­i­mals them­selves, their pro­duc­tiv­ity and wel­fare.

“We are en­cour­ag­ing farm­ers and landown­ers to en­gage with dog walk­ers and to help keep them in­formed by putting up signs on gate­ways and on key roads and paths alert­ing them to the pres­ence of sheep and other live­stock in their fields and sug­gest­ing al­ter­na­tive routes.”

Gemma Cooper from NFU Scot­land said: “At this time of year there is an in­creased like­li­hood of dog walk­ers in par­tic­u­lar com­ing into con­tact with sheep and other live­stock.

“Live­stock wor­ry­ing in any form is un­ac­cept­able and we can­not shy away from the fact that there have been a num­ber of un­for­tu­nate in­stances where dogs caught in the process of wor­ry­ing live­stock have been shot by farm­ers.

“The pub­lic must en­sure that dogs in the coun­try­side are kept on a lead or un­der close con­trol and must never be al­lowed to worry live­stock.

“Fail­ure to do this can re­sult in dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences for both the farmer and the dog owner.

“We are also aware of a num­ber of re­cent cases where sanc­tions handed to ir­re­spon­si­ble dog own­ers have been in­creas­ingly hefty and this is some­thing NFUS will con­tinue to press for.”

Caro­line Kisko from the Ken­nel Club said: “Re­search shows the main cause of sheep wor­ry­ing is peo­ple al­low­ing their dogs to stray.

“Such ir­re­spon­si­ble own­er­ship need­lessly puts dogs’ lives at risk, as well as farm an­i­mals and wildlife.

“We en­cour­age the re­spon­si­ble ma­jor­ity of dog own­ers to re­port strays and sup­port lo­cal coun­cils in tar­get­ing the ir­re­spon­si­ble mi­nor­ity at an early stage us­ing dog con­trol no­tices.”

Po­lice have asked that any­one who sees live­stock wor­ry­ing calls them on 101.

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