Campaign launched to protect livestock from dog attacks

Emma Harper MSP and consultee farmer with distressing images of the results of livestock attacks
Emma Harper MSP and consultee farmer with distressing images of the results of livestock attacks

With out-of-control dogs continuing to attack and kill livestock on Galloway farms, one local politician has launched a determined effort to curb the bloodshed.

Emma Harper MSP has being conducting a major consultation on her proposed new law to tackle the scourge.

Following several months of face-to-face consultation meetings with farmers, dog walkers and stakeholder organisations, the South Scotland MSP has now taken the next step in a process which aims to give police, courts and potentially other agencies more powers to properly tackle offences of dogs attacking livestock.

That next step in turning her ‘Proposed Protection of Livestock (Scotland) Bill’ into law was launched in the Scottish Parliament last week and consultation responses will be examined and fed into the next stage of the process – the proposal being brought before the Parliament to be considered as a Members’ Bill.

She said that representatives from NFU Scotland, as well as a wide range of other stakeholder organisations – from the National Sheep Association Scotland and the Scottish Outdoor Access Forum to the Scottish SPCA and Police Scotland – were in attendance at the launch, including Clare Slipper, NFU Scotland’s Political Affairs Manager, who was invited to speak at the event.

Ms Harper said: “We have seen various campaigns over past years which aim to educate the public on why it is important to control their dogs in a responsible way when near livestock. However, despite these sincere efforts, we have seen instances of livestock worrying rise in recent years – this is why I think it is now time for a change to the law to introduce a range of serious penalties to show the public what will happen if they allow their dogs to worry or attack livestock.

“I anticipate this range of measures will promote responsible behaviour from dog owners, and will deter people from allowing their dogs to roam freely near livestock.

“The consequences of an off lead dog in a field of livestock can be devastating and traumatic for both the farmer and their animals. I would like to thank all of the organisations and members of the public supporting me.”