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The heartbreaking consequences of livestock worrying in north east Scotland

By Kirsty Brown

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North and North East police were called out to more than 220 incidents of dogs worrying livestock since 2016, according to new figures.

Questions by MSP Alexander Burnett found that Aberdeenshire accounted for 88 attacks reported to Police Scotland in that time.

The Highlands saw 100 reports, Moray 27 and Aberdeen City 14.

The data was published after two sheep were destroyed outside Inverurie, prompting a call by local officers to keep dogs under close control.

All offences were recorded under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 so the number of incidents may be higher.

Scottish Conservative Mr Burnett supported NFU Scotland’s Take A Lead campaign which called for legislative changes, leading to a strengthening of powers in March 2021.

Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, the Act increases penalties to a fine of £40,000 or 12 months imprisonment for criminally irresponsible owners.

Mr Burnett said: “As a representative of a rural constituency, I believe the strengthening of police powers should protect farms while cracking down on thoughtless dog owners.

“Worrying may not always lead to an attack but often it results in healthy animals which need to be put down.

“There are heartbreaking consequences to thoughtlessness – both for the owner and the farmer.”

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