Dog owners in Scotland are reminded they could risk facing fines of up to £40,000 if they let their pets off the lead when walking in fields with livestock.
However the passing of Scotland’s new landmark Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Scotland) Bill earlier this year was further welcomed by the farming industry.
As well as steeply increasing the maximum fine and punishment, the Bill also extended the definition of livestock to include modern types of farmed animals such as alpacas, llamas and buffalo.
Worrying can be fatal to a farmer’s animals. It can also cause miscarriages or cause an animal to become injured during their panic.
Owners are warned to keep their dogs on a lead no matter how well behaved their pets usually are.
The strict rules give the police powers to investigate and enforce a livestock worrying offence.
Police can go onto land to identify a dog, seize it and collect evidence from it.
The law is designed to encourage people to keep their dogs under control as “worrying” live stock can cost animals their lives and farmers a lot of money.
If an owner is convicted of letting their dog off the lead within a field, they could be banned from owning dogs in the future.
The Bill allows dogs to be removed from a person’s ownership as well as stopping any future dog ownership.
You legally must have your dog on a lead no more than two metres long on Open Access land, even if there are no livestock around, between 1 March and 31 July, and at other times it is recommended you keep your dog on a lead around any livestock.
Livestock can become extra protective and potentially aggressive if dogs are let off around their young.
If the dog is particularly skittish around sheep, or loves to chase other animals, they should be kept well away from livestock.
The Countryside Code states: “If you feel threatened or are chased by livestock, then let go of the lead for your own safety. It’s usually the dog they see as a threat rather than you, and most dogs can easily outrun a cow.”
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