Scotland has approved tougher penalties under a new livestock worrying bill.
Dog owners can now be fined up to £40,000 or jailed for a maximum of a year, under SNP MSP Emma Harper’s bill.
The parliament agreed to pass the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill in recent days.
Harper explained that the bill came about because, in her work as a member, she heard about many horrific incidents of dogs attacking sheep and kye.
“In pursuing those, I discovered that the current legislation, which is now 68-years-old, was seriously outdated and needed to be modernised.”
Furthermore, she said she also discovered that incidents of livestock attack are underreported by farmers and crofters.
Continuing Harper added, “It is now lambing season. Fields are full of pregnant ewes and new lambs.”
“It is distressing to see photographs of the carnage of sheep and lambs killed in attacks by out-of-control dogs. Those tragic incidents dramatically highlight why the bill is needed.”
Scottish livestock worrying bill
The Scottish livestock worrying bill extends the definition of livestock to include llamas, alpacas and buffaloes, which were not covered by the 1953 act.
It also expands and modernises the definition of worrying to include to chase, attack, and kill.
According to Harper, the bill also gives additional powers to police to allow them to seize and detain a dog suspected of livestock attack on agricultural land for the purposes of identifying and securing evidence of the offence.
Besides, the bill will increase the maximum penalties for that crime. This brings them in line with the animal welfare legislation introduced by the Government last year.
“During the progress of the bill, we heard and saw evidence of the devastating financial and emotional impact that incidents of livestock worrying, and attack can have on both animals and farmers. Those attacks continue to increase in number, as recent media reports show.”
“The bill will make a real difference to farmers and will, I hope, help to educate everyone about the importance of keeping our dogs under control around livestock.”
“I hope to see a year-on-year reduction in incidents of worrying and attack and a rise in responsible access to our stunning countryside,” Harper concluded.