MSP encourages constituents to take part in consultation

Gillian Martin wants constituents to take the lead when it comes to incidents of livestock worrying
Gillian Martin wants constituents to take the lead when it comes to incidents of livestock worrying

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin is encouraging constituents 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 May 15th, 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.

Figures for Aberdeenshire have revealed that between 2017-2018 there were 21 recorded attacks while in 2016-2017 there were 16.

Commenting, Ms Martin 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 in the North-East to take part in this public consultation and make their views known.

"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.”