Midlothian South MSP encourages constituents to help stop livestock attacks

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Midlothian South MSP Christine Grahame 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 livestock protection legislation have more than doubled since 2008, while Police Scotland received 338 reports of attacks on livestock in 2018.

The consultation, which ends on May 15, 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. To take part go to: www.parliament.scot/gettinginvolved/111027.aspx.

Ms Grahame (SNP) 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 Midlothian 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, as well as being a serious 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 miscarry. When walking dogs near livestock it’s vital owners take responsibility and keep their dog on a lead to prevent 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 for 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.”