North-east MSP backs tougher penalties to tackle livestock worrying

Any new legal protection of Scottish livestock will need “significant public engagement” to warn dog owners of fines and jail terms for breaking the law, says a North East MSP.

Friday, 29th January 2021, 7:05 am
Tougher penalties could be introduced for dog owners who fall foul of proposed new legal protection for livestock.

The Scottish Parliament debated the first stage of a Holyrood Bill intended to update and strengthen 1953 legislation that deals with livestock worrying and criminality.

Fines could be upped from £1,000 to £5,000, and owners of dogs could face custodial sentences of up to six months.

Rural economy committee member Peter Chapman has backed the strengthening of legislation as livestock worrying by dogs is an “increasing issue”, but said more clarity is needed on how it would be released.

Data obtained by the Scottish Conservative MSP showed North and North East police recorded more than over than 230 cases of dogs worrying livestock over the last five years.

Mr Chapman told MSPs: “It is important to highlight that any attacks on livestock do not just have a financial impact on livestock owners, serious though that can be.

“The emotional stress of witnessing an attack and the aftermath of the attack place a great mental strain on farmers too.

“Therefore, there is an urgent need for the law on livestock worrying to be updated and strengthened.”

Voting on the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill will be rescheduled due to a technical hitch at Holyrood.

After the debate, Mr Chapman commented: “This will require a budget from the Scottish Government to highlight the problems, the responsibilities of dog owners and what the new fines and even jail might mean for them.”