Campaign aims to put an end to attacks on sheep
Advocates of the drive say that there are still far too many incidents of dogs worrying livestock when let off leads
A campaign highlighting the “huge distress” caused by dogs worrying livestock was launched by police and partners yesterday.
The five-month multi-agency campaign, titled Your Dog – Your Responsibility, got under way as officers in Fife made an appeal for information following the latest in a series of attacks across the kingdom and Tayside.
A farmer near Glenrothes used his quad bike to chase away a large brown dog that had cornered 20 of his sheep on December 28.
He later found 10 animals in a burn, one of which had drowned.
A second case happened at Tayport around noon on January 2, when a farmer had to go to the aid of an owner whose two dogs were running through his distressed flock.
The new campaign aims to ensure dog owners understand how traumatic attacks can be for livestock — and to highlight the emotional and financial impact on farmers and others involved.
Dog attacks on sheep and cattle in Scotland are estimated to cost Scottish agriculture more than £300,000 a year, insurer NFU Mutual said.
The campaign was launched in Midlothian by the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC), which is made up of partners from across the rural community, including Police Scotland, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and NFU Mutual.
Chief Superintendent John Mckenzie, who chairs SPARC, said: “Tackling livestock attacks is an important issue and remains a priority for SPARC.
“Further work requires to be done in highlighting not just the message about an owner or person responsible keeping a dog on a lead if there is livestock nearby but also a more general awareness message regarding responsible dog ownership, both in the home and when outside.”
The campaign also draws attention to other animals such as camelids – including alpacas and llamas – and horses following an increase in reports of these kinds of animals being attacked by dogs.
They are not currently included in the definition of livestock.
It is hoped it will encourage farmers and landowners to report all instances of attacks and trauma to their animals.
Karen Ramoo, of Scottish Land and Estates, said: “We want everyone to enjoy our countryside but it is important that dog owners exercise caution when it comes to our rural areas.
“It is vitally important that owners understand the huge distress that is caused by dog attacks on livestock, whether it be the pain these animals suffer or the emotional and financial distress that can be caused to farmers.
“Despite high-profile campaigns over many years, we are still seeing too many incidents of livestock attacks, often where dogs are being let off the leash or being left unattended and escaping from homes and gardens.
“Many of these incidents occur due to a misheld belief that their person’s dog is not capable of attacking livestock.
“Our message is to not take that risk, and make sure your dog is well controlled throughout our countryside.”
Gemma Cooper, NFU Scotland’s head of policy, said: “There is no excuse for dog owners allowing their dogs to worry livestock.
“The trauma and suffering caused by livestock worrying is a real and growing issue for the agricultural industry.”
Crime-prevention officer Fraser Laird urged anyone with information on the Fife incidents to call 101.
Despite high-profile campaigns, we are still seeing too many incidents of livestock attacks
Tom Paterson’s sheep were attacked.