The only effective, long-term solution to deter irresponsible dog owners from leaving dog foul on farmland is to amend the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003 to include agricultural land, NFU Scotland has stressed.
The Union has written to Paul Wheelhouse, the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, to stress the importance of the change in legislation, backed by recent surveying by NFU Scotland and Keep Scotland Beautiful.
Under the 2003 Act it is an offence for the person in charge of a dog not to remove its faeces immediately from any public open place, unless having reasonable excuse or relevant permission. This Act specifically exempts agricultural land, including grazing land meaning that there is no legislation requiring dog owners to remove faeces when walking their dogs in these areas.
In a survey of NFU Scotland members in 2015, 67 per cent of respondents highlighted dog fouling as being a problem on their land, with 34 per cent and 39 per cent reporting the issue as being responsible for livestock diseases and damage to crops respectively.
Dogs can be infected and act as carriers of a disease known as Neospora caninum which is a parasite passed in their faeces.
There are no drugs currently available to control this disease in cattle or to cure infected animals, nor is any vaccine licensed in the UK to prevent Neosporosis in cattle at the current time.
NFU Scotland’s Vice President Andrew McCornick commented: “Clearly, it is a distressing and costly experience for any keeper of livestock to lose an animal to this disease.
“For arable and specialist crop growers, too, there is a real risk of product being rejected and this is of course alongside the obvious unpleasantness and health implications of dog dirt being tread around farm land, buildings and houses, and transferred on to farm machinery and clothing.
“Having worked to promote responsible access to land and dog ownership for a number of years, NFU Scotland partnered with Keep Scotland Beautiful to run a trial surveying exercise in 2015 that assessed the impact of posters encouraging dog owners to pick up after their dogs being assembled on farmland.
“The pilot reported a 52.1 per cent decrease in the incidents of dog fouling across the four pilot sites, over the six-week period of the trial. These initial results are extremely encouraging, and NFU Scotland now plans to make the posters available for members nationwide.
“However, the limitations of the results are recognised. Whilst the study proves that dog owners’ behaviour can be influenced by intervention measures, this is a short-term measure with no guarantee of lasting results. NFU Scotland therefore remains convinced that the only effective, long-term solution to deter dog owners from leaving dog foul on farmland is to amend the Act to bring all agricultural land within the scope of the legislation.
“We need sufficient measures in place to mitigate the devastating impact this problem can have on farm businesses and livelihoods.”

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