Public urged to have a say on legislation

Gillian Martin (right) with Emma Harper, who launched the public consultation exercise.
Gillian Martin (right) with Emma Harper, who launched the public consultation exercise.

The public across the area are being encouraged to take part in a new public consultation on proposals to tackle the problem of dog attacks on livestock.

Crown Office statistics reveal that offences under current legislation have more than doubled since 2008, while Police Scotland has said 338 reports of attacks on livestock were received in 2018.

Figures for Aberdeenshire reflect the increase and have revealed that between 2017-2018 there were 21 recorded attacks while in 2016-2017 there were 16.

The consultation on strengthening livestock attack laws, which ends on May 15, was launched last month by SNP MSP Emma Harper with support from NFU Scotland, the Scottish SPCA, Police Scotland.

Party colleague Gillian Martin is also urging local people to use their voice and have a say on the proposals being considered.

The Aberdeenshire East MSP said: “The rise in dogs attacking livestock in the past decade is a serious concern and so I would ask constituents to take part in this consultation and make their views known.

“The consequences can be devastating to a farmer both financially and emotionally, while it’s a very serious animal welfare issue for the livestock involved.

“At this time of year sheep will be pregnant and even the chasing of a sheep by a dog can be so stressful for the ewe that it can abort the lambs it’s carrying.”

Clare Slipper, NFU Scotland political affairs manager, said that dog attacks are continuing despite a “vast amount” of publicity.

She continued: “Livestock worrying continues to blight Scottish farmers and crofters. Dogs themselves are not to blame, it’s their irresponsible owners who need to wake up and understand the devastation this is causing. We feel this is a real opportunity to clamp down on the issue once and for all.”

Details are available by emailing emma.harper.msp@parliament.scot or at www.emmaharpermsp.scot/livestock-worrying/.