Council and police share sheep worrying campaign

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Successful partnership working between Argyll and Bute Council and Police Scotland secured a conviction following a horrific livestock attack last year.

The joint operation has led to improved working practices which could be shared throughout Scotland.

Graham Hatton, from the council, and PC Ben Rusden, from MAKI police, will tell the Scottish Parliament of how, with support from SSPCA and local farmers, they successfully tracked the out-of-control dogs, gathered the evidence and took the owner to court.

They will be joined by Brian Walker, the farmer whose flock suffered in the dreadful attack.

The campaign has widened to provide farmers with signs instructing dog owners to keep their pets under control.

Leaflets have also been shared for stock owners advising them how to preserve evidence in the event of a sheep worrying incident and specific training will be provided for police officers in dealing with livestock attacks.

The campaign has been developed by the council, police, NFUS and SSPCA, and has been supported by local vets and businesses.

Mid Argyll and Kintyre area Inspector Julie McLeish said: ‘I would like to thank farmer Brian Walker for his support for this campaign.

‘He championed it among his peers following the savage attack caused by two large uncontrolled dogs.

‘Due to the effective joint working that took place, we secured a conviction with improved working practices and recognition of the role each agency and individual plays in this process.’

Already this year police are investigating several attacks on sheep in Oban, Mull, Lochgilphead and Cowal.

Three sheep were killed on Wednesday February 13 in a field near Mull Hospital at Craignure.

Robbie MacDougall, owner of the sheep killed on Mull, said: ‘I have never in my life seen anything like this. It is devastating. I have a croft and that was my stock.’

Three of Mr MacDougall’s nine sheep were killed, three were left with life- threatening injuries, two were missing and only one survived unscathed.

He continued: ‘The dogs certainly know how to kill. They took them out by the throat and every [sheep] had chest wounds.’

Sergeant Iain MacNicol said: ‘These incidents are particularly serious attacks and would have been extremely traumatic for the animals involved.

‘Such incidents are also emotionally distressing for the farmers and witnesses.’