Stuart McMillan MSP is encouraging constituents in Greenock and Inverclyde to take part in the public consultation on proposals to tackle incidents of dogs attacking livestock.
Crown Office statistics reveal that offences under the current livestock protection legislation have more than doubled since 2008, while Police Scotland have said that they received 338 reports of attacks on livestock in 2018.
The consultation, which ends on 15th May, was launched last month by SNP MSP Emma Harper, who has the support of a number of organisations, including NFU Scotland, the Scottish SPCA, and Police Scotland, and others, to strengthen livestock attack laws.
The public can take part in the consultation here.
Commenting, Mr McMillan said:
“The rise in the number of dogs attacking livestock, particularly sheep, in the past decade is a serious concern and so I would ask my constituents to take part in this public consultation and make their views known. While these attacks are not common locally, there have been some high profile incidences in the last few years, so I would ask all dog owners and walkers to remain vigilant.
“The consequences of a dog attack on livestock can be devastating to a farmer both financially and emotionally, while it is a very serious animal welfare issue for the livestock involved.
“At this time of year sheep will be pregnant and even the chasing of a sheep by a dog – without any physical contact taking place – can be so stressful for the ewe that it can abort the lambs it is carrying. I would ask constituents to ensure that when walking dogs near livestock to keep their dog on a lead to prevent further attacks.
“A number of organisations – including NFU Scotland, Scottish SPCA, Police Scotland, the Dogs Trust, and others – have been working closely with Emma Harper MSP on this issue, and I fully support my colleague’s proposals to strengthen the law with her proposed Protection of Livestock (Scotland) Bill.”
Clare Slipper, Political Affairs Manager of NFU Scotland, added:
“Despite a vast amount of awareness raising, livestock worrying continues to blight Scottish farmers and crofters. 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 the launch of the consultation for the 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.
“We urge as many people as possible to fill out the consultation and give their views on an issue that continues to blight Scottish agriculture.”
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said:
“We fully support Emma Harper MSP and the public consultation with regards to dogs attacking livestock.
“This is an issue that we are constantly campaigning to raise awareness of and we are pleased this is now at a stage where it is being looked at in Parliament.
“Our animal helpline, rescue officers and inspectors are regularly contacted regarding livestock attacks and we welcome the opportunity this consultation creates to reduce these potentially devastating incidents.
“We encourage everyone to take part in this consultation. It’s up to everyone who enjoys the countryside to be a responsible citizen and to be fully aware of their impact on the surrounding environment.”