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NFU backs urgent review of dog laws after attacks

By Lorna Thompson

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NFU Scotland has backed calls for an urgent review of dog control laws after an alarming spike in the number of livestock worrying cases.

The farming union has welcomed a report from a parliamentary committee that scrutinised the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 and found that it wasn’t fit for purpose.

NFU Mutual recently said the number of dog attacks on sheep had risen by 67% in two years.

NFU Scotland has backed the creation of a Dog Control Notice (DCN) database to track problem dogs and called for local authority dog wardens to be provided with more resources and training to help tackle the blight of livestock worrying.

The Scottish Parliament’s Public Accounts and Post Legislative Scrutiny Committee took an overarching look at all legislation on dogs.

The union submitted written evidence to the committee in October 2018 and its head of policy team, Gemma Cooper, gave evidence to the committee in March 2019, highlighting the devastating impact that livestock worrying by dogs can have on farmers and crofters.

The number of dog attacks on sheep has risen in recent years.
The number of dog attacks on sheep has risen in recent years.

The committee found that dog control law was not fit for purpose and called on the Scottish Government to undertake a review of all dog control legislation as a matter of urgency. It added that the lack of implementation of a DCN database must be rectified.

Ms Cooper said: "During our long-running work on the issue of livestock worrying, and our ongoing #ControlYourDog campaign, we have become aware of many of the issues which this report outlines, including the problems caused by the absence of a database for Dog Control Notices and a lack of resources for dog wardens in local authorities.

"Along with other issues outlined in the report, we believe that these are crucial components for properly dealing with the horrendous problems that our industry still suffers due to the blight of livestock worrying."

There have been a number of sheep-worrying incidents in Moray which have led police to warn pet owners to keep their dogs on leads when close to livestock.

In early June this year a 32-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman were charged following an incident of alleged sheep worrying involving a dog at a farm in the Dunphail area, near Forres. Three sheep died in the incident on April 27.

And in February last year four sheep died and several others were injured after a dog attack at a farm in the Drybridge area of Buckie. Police said the sheep were likely pregnant.

In December last year a Highland farmer met MSPs to call for law changes after 17 of his sheep were savaged in one night. Eleven of the animals died. Distressed Argyll farmer Brian Walker was left £4000 out of pocket in one of the worst livestock worrying cases seen in Scotland.

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