Emma Harper MSP met with farmers, vets and other stakeholders in Moffat on Wednesday evening last week to discuss the issue of dogs attacking livestock.


The South Scotland MSP is bringing forward proposals to improve the law in this area through a Members’ Bill at the Scottish Parliament, which looks to address a problem that costs Scottish farmers an estimated £330,000 last year alone and is a serious animal welfare issue.


Similar local meetings have been held in recent weeks in Castle Douglas, Ayr, Stranraer and Dumfries, and last week was an opportunity for those in the Moffat area to have their say on Livestock Worrying.


One local sheep farmer said:


Livestock Worrying is a really serious issue for those in the farming community. There are so many stories from farmers across the south of Scotland; my personal experience was a few months ago when my 81-year-old father had to drag a dog out of the field after he saw it chasing my sheep.
“He managed to catch the dog in the middle of savaging one of my sheep, who we managed to save, but it had a deep wound from its back down to its udder. If my father hadn’t caught the dog in the act I would have come home to find it disemboweled, not to mention the mess the others would have been in.
“The wounds on the sheep took six months to heal, and the trauma of that event means the herd will now run away at the sight of a dog just passing the field.”

Another Moffat farmer said:


My animals were attacked recently when five of my sheep were set upon by an off-lead dog and I wasn’t around to protect them.
“Three of my sheep had to be put down by the vet – one that had to be put down was still standing but its insides were coming out. It was absolutely horrific, and such an awful attack on such a defenceless animal that is simply unable to outrun a dog.
“A further sheep was so traumatised by the incident that it aborted the two lambs it was carrying.
“I’m really pleased that Emma Harper is taking action by bringing forward these proposals to make changes to the law. It’s a serious issue for all livestock farmers.”

But in the meantime the message from farmers is for the public to keep their dogs on a lead. Wendy Hyslop, who owns Craigbeck Farm near Moffat with her husband believes dog owners should be more responsible when accessing the outdoors:


If the dog is on a lead it can do no harm. A farm is a farmer’s place of work and that must be respected by those accessing the countryside.
“Our farm has a core path to the Southern Upland Way, and there are times when I have asked people to put their dog on a lead when walking near livestock. It is extremely important that the public is educated on the issue of Sheep Worrying and the devastation an off lead dog of any size can cause.”


Emma Harper MSP added:


I had another opportunity to meet with farmers and other stakeholders in Moffat this week to discuss Livestock Worrying – or Livestock Trauma, which I believe is a more fitting term – and to hear stories of livestock being attacked and how we can improve the law in this area.
Farmers spend months and years rearing their beasts, and to lose their animals in this way leaves many emotionally devastated, as well as financially out of pocket. Even dogs that don’t physically make contact with a sheep during the chase can still traumatise it enough that it aborts its lambs if pregnant.

If you would like to submit your views to Emma Harper MSP on the issue of Livestock Worrying please email [email protected]


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