New bill is aimed at protecting sheep and other livestock from dog attacks
It will significantly increase the powers of investigation and penalties to tackle the ongoing blight of dog attacks on livestock and dog fouling - two of the biggest issues that farmers, crofters and landowners face through irresponsible access by dog owners.
The Bill provides for penalties to extend to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months; to a fine not exceeding £40,000; or both.
The Union also praised the cross-party support afforded to the bill by all MSPs which successfully saw it reach Stage Three approval ahead of the Scottish Parliament going into recess for the elections in May.
As lambing and calving season gets going, coinciding with some lockdown restrictions easing, NFU Scotland ran a webinar to provide members with some practical steps to support and help them manage the behaviour of dogs and reduce conflict with dog owners on their farmland.
NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said: “With dog attacks on livestock occurring daily, and irresponsible dog ownership persisting, I thank Emma Harper MSP for her tireless efforts in bringing forward this landmark Bill.
“As someone who has seen several dog attacks on my sheep in the past, the pain and suffering of animals is dreadful to see. The cost to livestock owners is often high, both financially and emotionally, and such attacks are easily avoidable by dog owners acting responsibly around livestock.
“Once brought into legislation later this year, enforcement is key. The stronger penalties must act as a better deterrent; and when paired with the investigative powers granted by the Bill, the number of prosecutions must increase.
“This bill sends out a crystal-clear message on this matter. NFUS has spent considerable time, effort and resource on this blight over many years.
“It was clear that there was a need for legislation.”