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Local MSP urges owners to keep their dogs on leads near livestock

Scottish MSPs are set to tackle the issue of livestock worrying.

Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford has called on dog owners to keep their pets on leads near livestock.

Stirling farmers are preparing for lambing season, and some are particularly worried about the safety of their livestock. This is mainly due to the fact that current legislation does not do enough to prevent livestock attacks from happening.

There are severe financial implications for farmers when their livestock are killed or injured. Added to this is the emotional distress of dealing with such incidents.

Several animal charities have also spoken out, highlighting that this is a serious problem for animal welfare in Scotland.

On January 24, a sheep was attacked and had its ear bitten off by a dog at a farm near Balfron, to the north of the Stirling constituency.

Bruce Crawford has condemned the irresponsible dog owners at fault. He said: “All dogs need to be kept under the control of their owners when walking near livestock as any breed of dog is capable of chasing and attacking livestock.”

Crawford also pointed out that as we enter lambing season, even being chased by a dog can cause a ewe to stress out so severely that it can abort its lambs.

South of Scotland MSP Emma Harper will take to parliament today (February 21) to launch a public consultation tackling livestock worrying, which is becoming a serious issue across Scotland.

She hopes to give the courts and Police Scotland extra power and specific training in dealing with these types of incidents. Furthermore, she aims to increase the penalties, which at present are incredibly lenient. Crawford is fully behind his colleague’s campaign.

Sheep worrying
Bruce Crawford is urging owners to take control of their dogs. Credit: Scottish Parliament

Livestock attacks have more than doubled in the last decade, and the National Farmer’s Union (NFU) have decided that enough is enough. They are also fully behind Harper’s Members Bill, and will be keen to see the laws surrounding livestock worrying become stricter in Scotland.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said that “livestock worrying remains a blight on Scottish livestock farming.” He also called on dog owners to “wake up and understand the devastation this is causing.”

The NFU are trying to encourage as many people as possible to contribute their views on the consultation, in a bid to pass laws through parliament to toughen up on the issue.

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