A three month Police Scotland campaign is being launched today (Tuesday 1st March) to raise awareness amongst dog owners about the devastating effects of livestock worrying.
The campaign will see Scottish Natural Heritage working with the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, a multi-agency partnership which includes Police Scotland, National Farmers Union of Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates, to encourage dog walkers to use the countryside responsibly.
The campaign seeks to highlight the impact of livestock worrying, ensuring that dog owners who live in or walk their dogs in the countryside act responsibly and keep their dogs under close control.
The worrying of livestock can have devastating consequences for farm animals and for farmers and their businesses and this campaign is being launched to coincide with the spring lambing period because this is when sheep are at greatest risk.
A dog attacking, chasing or even being at large in a field where sheep are kept can lead to significant injury and often leads to the sheep being killed or destroyed. Such attacks have a financial and emotional impact on the farmer and are avoidable if dog owners follow some simple steps.
Inspector Jane Donaldson, Police Scotland Rural Crime Co-ordinator, said: “The worrying of sheep and other livestock by domestic 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.
“Livestock worrying can occur when a dog attacks, chases or in the case of sheep, is at large (not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field where livestock is kept. The devastating effects of a dog attack are evident and cannot be overstated but significant damage can also be caused by a dog simply being present in a field. Pregnant ewes can abort their lambs or lambs can be separated from their mothers, causing distress and in some cases malnutrition.
“The advice to anyone walking and exercising their dogs in the countryside is to ensure that they are under control at all times and avoid going into fields where livestock is grazing. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code says that dogs shouldn’t be taken into fields where there are lambs or other young farm animals.”
The partners involved in this initiative are encouraging farmers to help educate dog walkers and prevent incidents occurring.
“We are encouraging farmers and landowners to engage with dog walkers and to put signs up on gateways and on key roads and paths alerting them to the presence of sheep and lambs in their fields” added Inspector Donaldson.