Cop o’ the North here to ease our worries

DG Police sheep attack campaign squad. Ap 2019
DG Police sheep attack campaign squad. Ap 2019

A specialist police officer described as a trailblazer in investigating dog attacks on livestock has been called south from his Argyll base to help police in Galloway tackle the scourge.

Constable Ben Rusden was the officer who dealt with one of the worst cases of livestock attacks in Scotland in recent years when a farm in Inveraray suffered an attack on 17 sheep – 11 of which died as a result of being savaged.

Since that attack, PC Rusden has worked to educate his colleagues on how to deal with incidents of livestock attacks by dogs and has engaged with farmers about the importance of reporting such incidents and to reassure them that all reports will be taken seriously.

On Friday, PC Rusden and Argyll & Bute Council Environmental Officer Graham Hatton met with our local officers to pass on their knowledge and best practices for dealing with livestock attacks. Information shared included advice on obtaining forensic evidence, signage for fields where livestock are located and specially designed ‘advice for farmer’ leaflets on the actions to take by a farmer following a suspected dog attack on livestock.

Emma Harper MSP, who is currently running a public consultation to tackle incidents of dogs attacking livestock with a view to improving the law in Scotland by bringing forward a Parliamentary Members’ Bill, said: “Constable Rusden has been reaching out to other police divisions across Scotland to inform them on the best practices to deal with livestock attacks, which statistics show have more than doubled in Scotland in the past decade.

“Incidents of livestock attacks occur when an off-lead dog chases and attacks the livestock, mostly sheep, but there have been instances of horses, cattle and calves being left injured or dead. This is traumatising for both the farmer and livestock.”