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Keep dogs on the lead near livestock, warn SSPCA

By Alan Beresford

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Livestock worrying is an offence and can cause serious harm to animals.
Livestock worrying is an offence and can cause serious harm to animals.

THE Scottish SPCA is appealing for dog owners to keep their dog on a lead when enjoying the countryside.

Spring brings the lambing season, when sheep give birth to their young. Sadly, this is when livestock worrying can have the most disastrous consequences.

Livestock worrying is a crime which involves a dog attacking or worrying livestock animals in rural and farmland areas.

Even well-trained dogs who are off their leads or are roaming without an owner or person in charge with them can do serious damage to sheep, cattle and their young.

Even if the dog does not catch them, the stress can cause pregnant ewes to miscarry their lambs; livestock worrying can even lead to death.

Livestock fleeing from dogs are often killed or seriously injured by their panicked attempts to escape, causing untold damage to fences and field boundaries in the process.

While many owners are unaware of the impact their dogs can have on sheep and cattle, it is their responsibility to ensure attacks or livestock worrying do not happen.

Scottish SPCA Inspector Alastair Adams said: “Remember livestock worrying is a crime and must be reported to the police in all cases.

"If you see an incident happen, call 999 immediately and ask for the police.

“Worrying includes attacking or chasing sheep or cattle and, in some circumstances, farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs if they are endangering their livestock.

“It is vital that you keep your dog on the lead around livestock, even if you can usually trust them to come to call. If you live in or near a farming area, you must make sure that your dog cannot escape from your property, as they may find their way onto land where sheep or cattle are grazing or rearing young.

“If you have seen a sheep or flock and are concerned about their conditions or welfare, call our confidential animal helpline to report it on 03000 999 999.”

More information visit https://www.scotland.police.uk/advice-and-information/livestock-attacks-and-worrying/ and https://www.nationalsheep.org.uk/for-the-public/culture/sheep-worrying/sheep-worrying/

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