Tougher sanctions needed for livestock worrying culprits
NFU Scotland is seeking harsher penalties for people who let their dogs attack livestock, after an Argyll man appeared before the sheriff court. Nicholas Rowley, of East Princes Street in Rothesay but formerly of Lochgilphead, allowed four dogs he had responsibility for to seriously injure and kill a total of 17 sheep on farmland near Inveraray on March 4 this year, leaving the farmer with damages of around £4,100. The injuries inflicted on the sheep during this attack were so severe that photographs taken afterwards were deemed unsuitable for publication. Rowley previously pled guilty under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, Section 1(1) and (6) and Sheriff Thomas Ward sentenced him to an 80-hour community pay back order to be completed within three months. NFU Scotland wants tougher sanctions on people who let their dogs attack livestock and will be sending a briefing on this court case to Emma Harper MSP to back up her efforts for a Private Members’ Bill on the issue. During the court hearing, Sheriff Thomas Ward told the court he acknowledged that Rowley was in no position to pay either a fine and or any compensation to the affected farmer. He expressed frustration that under the current legislation he was unable to impose a prison sentence, nor could he disqualify 56-yearold Rowley from keeping dogs. The victim, Brian Walker of Carloonan Farm, said that the outcome of the case had been disappointing but he was not surprised. ‘This incident was particularly stressful. Although we took a heavy financial loss, this has not been my focus. The cost of the damage is so high as these ewe hoggs would have been used on the farm for breeding for years to come. We have done everything by the book since this happened to ensure it was fairly, and properly put through the justice system. ‘However, even with doing this we have been let down by antiquated legislation. ‘It is now evident that the farming community in Scotland doesn’t have any protection from instances of livestock worrying as the sanctions dog owners face are far too lenient to deter them from doing this again.’ Mr Walker paid credit to the police and dog warden for their efforts and support and said he would be fully backing NFU Scotland and Emma Harper’s effort to bring the law into the 21st century. ‘For those suffering problems with dogs near or disturbing their livestock and posing a potential threat to their livestock contact your local dog warden to seek a Dog Control Notice (DCN) to be put in place where appropriate. This is the only means available of being able to control dogs causing persistent problems with livestock at the present time. ‘I believe this has stopped another attack by these dogs. Unfortunately, once these dogs have a taste for it, they are likely to attack again, and I fear the next time it may not be an animal, but someone’s child,’ he added, Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland president said: ‘Livestock worrying continues to be a blight on Scottish agriculture, and greater sanctions and further public awareness are needed so dog owners are fully aware of their responsibilities to keep their animals under control. ‘Despite the dogs in this case being subject to a DCN, the individual remains with four of his dogs in his care – this is a real worry for local farmers.’
NFUS asks for harsher penalties for people who let their dogs attack livestock.