Sheep-sav­aging talks spur law change call

Farmer meets MSPs af­ter 17 ewes at­tacked by dogs

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY RITA CAMP­BELL

A farmer at the cen­tre of one of Scot­land’s worst ever cases of dogs at­tack­ing a flock of sheep has urged politi­cians to toughen laws.

Brian Walker, of Car­loo­nan Farm in In­ver­aray, Ar­gyll, had 17 of his ewes sav­aged in the night.

While six sheep could be saved, four were al­ready dead and seven were so badly maimed they had to be put down.

Mr Walker was left around £4,000 out of pocket as he did not re­ceive com­pen­sa­tion de­spite charges be­ing brought against the dog owner, who was also al­lowed to keep the dogs in­volved in the at­tack.

The owner was sen­tenced to carry out 80 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice.

Af­ter meet­ing se­nior pol­i­cy­mak­ers, Mr Walker said yesterday that there was “now mo­men­tum with the chang­ing of the law to tackle live­stock wor­ry­ing”.

MSPs Mike Rus­sell and Emma Harper trav­elled to Mr Walker’s farm­house to dis­cuss the maul­ing, which took place in March.

Representatives from NFU Scot­land, po­lice, NSA Scot­land, Scot­tish SPCA and Lochgilp­head’s Dal­ri­ada Vet­eri­nary Surgery also took part in the talks around the is­sue in gen­eral.

Ms Harper wanted to hear about the ex­pe­ri­ences of ev­ery­one in­volved in the case ahead of the forth­com­ing launch of an on­line pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on dogs at­tack­ing live­stock.

She an­nounced ear­lier this year in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment that she would be bring­ing for­ward pro­pos­als for a Mem­bers’ Bill to toughen the law.

Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­vealed by NFU Mu­tual, the num­ber of dog at­tacks on sheep has risen by 67% in two years, and cost Scot­tish farm­ers £330,000 in 2017 alone.

Ms Harper said: “It was im­por­tant to meet with Mr Walker and to lis­ten to his ac­count of this hor­rific at­tack first hand on the farm where it hap­pened. Mr Walker is just one of hun­dreds of farm­ers across Scot­land whose farms are af­fected by dogs chas­ing and at­tack­ing their live­stock ev­ery year.

“The farmer in this case has been left out of pocket by £4,000, which doesn’t in­clude the fu­ture money the off­spring and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of the now de­ceased ewes would have raised for the farm.

“What was par­tic­u­larly dis­tress­ing about this case was the num­ber of sheep at­tacked and the ex­tent of the in­juries which were mainly fo­cused on the fac- es of the sheep in­volved. The 11 sheep which died as a re­sult of this at­tack, as well as the six sur­vivors, would have gone through an unimag­in­able amount of trauma and suf­fer­ing dur­ing this pro­longed at­tack.

“I would like to thank Mr Walker, Mr Rus­sell and the other or­gan­i­sa­tions in­volved for at­tend­ing the meet­ing and I would en­cour­age farm­ers from across Scot­land to email or phone my of­fice with their sto­ries or ex­pe­ri­ences of dogs at­tack­ing live­stock and their views on what new leg­is­la­tion should look like.”

Mr Walker added: “I would think to­day was one of the most sig­nif­i­cant round-the-ta­ble dis­cus­sions there has been in Scot­land to dis­cuss the live­stock wor­ry­ing is­sue and it gave ev­ery­one an op­por­tu­nity to con­sider the changes in the law which are re­quired to both de­ter fu­ture at­tacks and to com­pen­sate farm­ers like my­self when such an in­ci­dent oc­curs.”

“The farmer in this case has been left out of pocket by £4,000”

MEET­ING POINT: Farmer Brian Walker, at cen­tre wear­ing hat, joins MSPs Mike Rus­sell, Emma Harper and oth­ers in­volved in the meet­ing

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