NFU welcomes Dogs Bill
NFU Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s decision to pass the landmark Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Bill.
It will significantly increase investigation powers and penalties to tackle the ongoing blight of dog attacks on livestock and dog fouling – two of the biggest issues farmers, crofters and landowners face through irresponsible access by dog owners.
The Bill provides for penalties including up to 12 months imprisonment, fines of up to £40,000 – or both.
The Union also praised the cross-party support afforded to the bill by all MSPs which successfully saw it reach Stage Three approval ahead of the Scottish Parliament going into recess for the elections in May.
NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said: “With dog attacks on livestock occurring daily, and irresponsible dog ownership persisting, I thank Emma Harper MSP for her tireless efforts in bringing forward this Bill.
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“As someone who has witnessed several dog attacks on my sheep in the past, the pain and suffering of animals is dreadful to see.
"The cost to livestock owners is often high, both financially and emotionally, and such attacks are easily avoidable by dog owners acting responsibly around livestock.
“Once brought into legislation later this year, enforcement is key. The stronger penalties must act as a better deterrent; and when paired with the investigative powers granted by the Bill, the number of prosecutions of those dog owners responsible for allowing livestock attacks to happen must increase.
"With the issue continuing to blight the countryside, this will be a significant step forward. This Bill sends out a crystal-clear message.
"NFUS has spent considerable time, effort and resource on this blight over many years.
"Efforts have been focused on raising awareness among dog owners of their responsibilities, livestock keepers of their rights and lobbying local authorities and Police Scotland to use control mechanisms available to them.
“It was clear there was a need for legislation, stronger penalties and appropriate compensation to hammer home the responsibility of dog owners who don’t exercise their pets responsibly on agricultural land.”