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

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - STE­WART ALEXAN­DER

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

Pic­ture: Kim Cess­ford.

Tom Pater­son’s sheep were at­tacked.

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