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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-15694: Colin Smyth (South Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 28 March 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to reports that livestock worrying is increasing.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 26 April 2018

The Scottish Government fully supports all steps taken to protect sheep from out of control dogs. The consequences of sheep worrying can be devastating all year round and in particular in lambing season.

The 'sheep-wise' video produced by Quality Meat Scotland and the National Sheep Association is an excellent example of a current campaign which highlights the consequences to the public of failing to control their dogs when around other animals such as sheep.

The law on sheep-worrying is found in the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953. This legislation provides that if a dog worries livestock on any agricultural land, the owner of the dog, and, if it is in the charge of a person other than its owner, that person also, shall be guilty of an offence under this Act. The definition of worrying livestock is if a dog attacks livestock, or chases livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock or, in the case of females, abortion, or loss of or diminution in their produce, or is at large (that is to say not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.

Police Scotland is committed to applying the law robustly if dog owners don't keep their dogs under control, including investigating all incidents of livestock worrying and reporting cases reported to the Procurator Fiscal with a view to securing appropriate convictions. In addition, local authorities have powers to impose civil dog control notices if dogs are out of control and this includes on agricultural land.

The Scottish Government fully supports effective enforcement of the law in this area by justice agencies and local authorities.