Emma Harper MSP Tackles Livestock Worrying

Last week Emma Harper MSP met with stakeholders in both Stranraer and Dumfries to discuss her proposed Members’ Bill to tackle the issue of Livestock Worrying, where off-lead dogs attack farm animals.


Livestock Worrying is reported to cost the rural economy around £1.3m and is a harrowing experience for all involved, with livestock aborting lambs or having to be put down, while farmers are left out of pocket and distressed to lose their animals in horrific circumstances. Dogs can also be shot by the farmer if they are out of control and are chasing or attacking the animals.


At these meetings, Emma Harper MSP – who is the Parliamentary Liaison Officer to Fergus Ewing, the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy – is consulting farmers and other stakeholders to discuss what new legislation on Livestock Worrying should look like.


The South Scotland MSP said:


The meetings in both Stranraer and Dumfries allowed me to hear from people involved in the farming, outdoor access and veterinary sectors who are keen to see new legislation protect livestock from irresponsible dog owners.
“It was interesting to hear the views of local vet Alan Marshall who recalled incidents to me, that happened in Dumfries and Galloway, where livestock worrying has become a recurring problem, with one farm affected by dog attacks on sheep three times in the last five years.
“A clear message is that dogs need to be kept under the control of their owners when walking in countryside and if they are out of human supervision any dog is capable of livestock worrying.
“A farmer’s field is his or her place of work, and that principle must be respected when people and their dogs are walking through farmland.
“Livestock worrying can be a very traumatic event for all involved, and part of this consultation process is to educate the public – and dog owners in particular – on the consequences of an out of control dog in the countryside.”

Teresa Dougall, Dumfries and Galloway Regional Manager of NFU Scotland added:


Despite a vast amount of awareness raising, livestock worrying remains a blight on Scottish livestock farming. Dogs themselves are not to blame, it’s their irresponsible owners who need to wake up and understand the devastation this is causing.
“We are delighted to work with Emma Harper MSP on her proposal for a Private Members Bill and feel this is a real opportunity to clamp down on the issue once and for all – hopefully saving our members immeasurable heartache and considerable financial losses.  The Stranraer and Dumfries meetings – and the others which have been organised – have been a prime opportunity for everyone to get involved and have their say.
“We will engage strongly with the legislative process to ensure robust enforcement, and as always, we urge our members to continue to report all incidents of livestock worrying to Police Scotland.” 


Emma Harper MSP’s next Livestock Worrying meeting is due to take place at the Buccleuch Arms in Moffat on Wednesday 22nd August between 6.30pm-8pm

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