Be sheep-wise this spring and keep your dog under control

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A NEW ‘sheep-wise’ campaign to warn the public about the consequences of sheep worrying has been launched by the National Sheep Association of Scotland and Quality Meat Scotland.

Scotland’s rural organisations are uniting behind the campaign, which also has the support of the Scottish SPCA, Police Scotland, the British Veterinary Association, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and Scottish Natural Heritage.

The initiative includes a high-impact, two-minute film aimed at highlighting the devastation, for farmers and dog owners, caused by sheep worrying, with powerful first-hand accounts of sheep worrying from Aberdeenshire farmer John Fyall (who is also chairman of NSA Scotland), Stonehaven vet David McLaren and Gill MacGregor, the Scottish SPCA
senior inspector.

Narrated by a dog lover, the film also articulates the anguish which dog owners face, along with potential criminal prosecution, if they fail to control their dogs properly in the countryside.

Kathy Peebles, NSA Scotland vice-chairwoman, said: ‘For farmers, as well as lost income, it is heart-breaking to witness horrendous injuries in the sheep they work hard to look after.

‘For pregnant ewes, the result of being hounded by dogs can be miscarriage of unborn lambs and for ewes with young lambs at foot the result can be offspring getting separated from ewes and dying of hypothermia or starvation. The outcome could be a vet putting down a healthy dog, which is distressing for the owner and could easily be avoided by following the countryside access code.’

Carol McLaren, of Quality Meat Scotland, added: ‘A key message of the campaign is that sheep worrying is not a dog problem, it is a dog owner problem.

‘Any dog – whatever breed, size or age – has the potential to chase sheep and cause considerable harm but the responsibility lies with owners to keep their dogs under control and out of trouble.’

Inspector Jane Donaldson, Police Scotland’s rural crime co-ordinator, added: ‘Police Scotland recognises that the worrying of livestock can have devastating consequences for farm animals and has an obvious financial and emotional impact on farmers and their businesses, particularly during the spring lambing period.

‘The Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime livestock worrying campaign runs from February to May and the advice to dog owners is to keep your dog under control at all times and avoid going into fields where livestock is grazing. Farmers and those who use the countryside are urged to report all incidents of livestock worrying to police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.’