With lambing season rapidly approaching, I would like to remind dog walkers of their responsibilities with regard to keeping their pets on a lead when they are near sheep.
Dog owners have a clear responsibility to ensure their pets are under control and this is made clear in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, especially when there are pregnant ewes and young lambs in the fields.
If your pets chase or worry sheep, you are likely to get prosecuted and you could lose your dog.
Worrying is defined as attacking livestock, chasing livestock in such a way that it may be reasonable to expect the dog to cause injury or suffering to livestock as well as abortion in female animals, and being at large (not under close control or on a lead) in a field or enclosure where there are sheep.
Chasing by dogs can do serious damage to livestock, even if the dog doesn’t catch them. The stress of chasing/worrying by dogs can cause animals to die and pregnant stock to miscarry.
Livestock fleeing from dogs are often killed or seriously injured by their panicked attempts to escape, often causing significant collateral damage to fences and field boundaries in the process.
In some circumstances farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs if they are endangering their sheep. Therefore it is vital that you keep your dog on the lead around livestock.
In the last few years there have been a number of prosecutions across Perth & Kinross under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 and several dogs have been destroyed; please make sure it’s not your dog.
If anyone witnesses an incident of livestock worrying they should contact Police Scotland on 101 or 999 in an emergency.