SNP MSP Ruth Maguire for Cunninghame South is supporting South Scotland MSP, Emma Harper’s proposed Members’ Bill to tackle incidents of dogs attacking livestock – with the official launch of the online public consultation on the proposals taking place in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 21st February.
In the farming community such attacks, commonly referred to by farmers as ‘livestock worrying’, are a regular occurrence with a total of 338 incidents of livestock worrying reported to Police Scotland in 2018, however it is believed that as many as half of livestock attacks go unreported. Statistics obtained from the Crown Office revealed that such incidents have more than doubled in the last ten years, and agricultural insurance broker NFU Mutual has said that livestock worrying cost Scottish farmers £330,000 in 2017 alone.
Following the launch, the public consultation for the ‘Proposed Protection of Livestock (Scotland) Bill’ will last for 12 weeks before all the responses will be examined and fed into the next stage of the process – being brought before the Parliament to be considered as a potential Bill.
Ruth Maguire said:
“Incidents of dogs attacking livestock, particularly sheep, are on the rise in Scotland and so all dogs need to be kept under the control of their owners when walking near livestock as any breed of dog is capable of chasing and attacking livestock.
“At this time of year sheep will be pregnant and even the chasing of a sheep by a dog – without any physical contact taking place – can be so stressful for the ewe that it can abort the lambs it is carrying.
“The consequences of a dog attack on livestock can be devastating to a farmer both financially and emotionally, while it is a very serious animal welfare issue for the livestock involved.
“A number of organisations – including NFU Scotland, the National Sheep Association, Police Scotland, Scottish SPCA and others – have been working closely with Emma Harper MSP on this issue, and I fully support my colleague’s proposals to strengthen the law with her proposed Members’ Bill.”
Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland President added:
“Despite a vast amount of awareness raising, livestock worrying remains a blight on Scottish livestock farming. Dogs themselves are not to blame, it’s their irresponsible owners who need to wake up and understand the devastation this is causing.
“We are delighted to work with Emma Harper MSP on the launch of the consultation for the Members Bill and feel this is a real opportunity to clamp down on the issue once and for all – hopefully saving our members immeasurable heartache and considerable financial losses.
“We urge as many people as possible to fill out the consultation and give their views on an issue that continues to blight Scottish agriculture.”
Emma Harper MSP’s comments ahead of consultation launch:
“After a lot of work in the background I’m now ready to launch the online consultation for my proposals to tackle livestock worrying, an issue which is of the upmost importance to livestock farmers in Scotland.
“The consequences of an off lead dog in a field of livestock can be devastating and traumatic for both the farmer and their animals. My proposals seek to toughen the law and that more dog owners are deterred from letting their dog off a lead in the countryside by introducing a range of penalties.
“I would like to thank all of the organisations and members of the public involved in supporting my proposals to date and I would encourage everyone to have their say when the consultation is launched later this month.”