Extended livestock worrying campaign launched

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A five-month multi-agency campaign to highlight the reality of livestock attacks and trauma by dogs has been launched.

The aim of the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime’s (SPARC)  campaign – ‘Your Dog – Your Responsibility’ is to ensure  dog owners understand the distressing nature as well as emotional and financial impacts such incidents can have, not just on farmers but everyone having to deal with the aftermath.

Experience has shown that, livestock attacks and trauma occur when dog owners living, working or enjoying the rural environment, are not present.

Regardless of whether a dog has been let off a lead and not obeyed commands, whether someone else was in charge of the dog at that time; or through the increasing number of dogs left alone at home or in gardens then escaping, owners are reminded that they must take responsibility for the actions of their dog.

The campaign draws attention to other animals.

Reports have been received about attacks on camelids, including alpacas and llamas, plus horses being attacked with increasing frequency as these animals are not included under the definition of ‘livestock.’

Events will be held around Scotland concluding in May at Conic Hill, Balmaha, which is located within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

It is hoped by having a harder-hitting message that reaches communities throughout Scotland, that it will encourage farmers and landowners to report all instances of  attacks and trauma to their animals.

SPARC is made up of partners from across the rural community, including Police Scotland, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and NFU Mutual.

This new campaign complements work being done by rural organisations to combat livestock worrying and the impact it can have on farmers and landowners.

Chief Superintendent John McKenzie, who chairs SPARC, said: ‘Tackling livestock attacks is an important issue and remains a priority for SPARC.

‘Further work is needed to highlight not just the message about an owner or person responsible keeping a dog on a lead if there is livestock nearby, but a more general awareness message regarding responsible dog ownership, both in the home and when outside.

‘To that end, SPARC is launching this campaign with key messages of of awareness raising, education and prevention.’

Gemma Cooper, NFU Scotland’s head of policy, added: ‘There is no excuse for dog owners allowing their dogs to worry livestock.

‘The trauma and suffering caused by livestock worrying is a real and growing issue for the agricultural industry.

‘NFU Scotland is pleased to be a part of this campaign. I am hopeful that by continuing to raise awareness of this problem, and the impact it can have, that we can encourage the general public to make sure that they are responsible for their dogs.’

Karen Ramoo, Scottish Land and Estates, said: ‘Despite high profile campaigns over many years we are still seeing too many incidents of livestock attacks and trauma in our rural areas.

‘Many of these incidents occur due to a misheld belief that their dog is not capable of attacking livestock.

‘Our message is to not take that risk and make sure your dog is well controlled throughout our countryside.’

Sheep attacked by a dog in an Inveraray field in 2018. no_a11SheepAttacked03.jpg