With collaboration across the agricultural industry increasing to tackle the blight of livestock worrying by dogs, NFU Scotland’s Dumfries and Galloway region will be launching a local initiative over Easter weekend.
On the back of the Union’s Control Your Dog on Farmland campaign, launched in February, regional initiatives are being set up to support the campaign. At Loch Ken Holiday Park, on Saturday 20 April, Dumfries and Galloway Regional Manager Teresa Dougall will launch the local initiative. Teresa will be joined by Police Scotland, Emma Harper MSP and local farmer Mungo Bryson to speak to dog walkers throughout the day, encouraging them to keep their dogs on a lead on farmland and pick up after them.
Further local events are planned across the region to educate dog walkers about their responsibilities when walking on or near farmland, as well as distributing publicity material to local businesses and farms.
The key messages are aimed at farmers and dog owners and include:
- Be informed – know your responsibilities under the Code
- Plan ahead – know your route, ensure you have poo bags and a lead
- Control your pet – keep dogs on a lead around livestock. Know the steps to take if things don’t go to plan – cattle charging, dog escapes?
- Don’t leave it hanging – picking up your dog’s poo is not enough, take it with you and put it in a bin, even if on the fringes of farmland. Do not just ‘flick it’ into the bushes.
In early December, NFU Scotland surveyed farmers, crofters and landowners about the issues they have with irresponsible access, either through livestock worrying by dogs, or the impacts of owners failing to pick up after their pets on or near farmland. The survey had more than 340 responses, which showed that:
- 72 per cent of respondents had an issue with livestock worrying on their land
- 100 per cent of survey respondents said they have an issue with dog fouling on their land – this included plastic bag pollution as well as instances where livestock have contracted diseases from eating dog poo and plastic bags.
This campaign complements the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime campaign Your Dog, Your Responsibility. In addition to this, a public consultation on a proposed Protection of Livestock Bill by Emma Harper MSP seeks changes in the law to promote responsible behaviour from dog owners, and to deter people from allowing their dogs to roam freely near livestock. The consultation, which can be filled out by 15 May, but visiting: https://www.parliament.scot/gettinginvolved/111027.aspx
NFU Scotland Regional Manager for Dumfries and Galloway Teresa Dougall commented: “Many people underestimate the damage dogs can do – whether that is attacking livestock when being off a lead or causing them to contract dangerous diseases through their poo – we need dog owners to take responsibility for controlling their dogs. With many farms and fields being nearby to public areas, particularly in Dumfries and Galloway, it is even more important that dog owners ensure their pets are kept on a lead around farmland, and that they pick up after their pets.
“Attacks on livestock are happening all too often and we need the support of local dog owners to help prevent this. You think your dog is ‘just playing’ with the sheep but that could change in an instant and you will have no way to stop the dog when it starts to attack.”