AN Earlston landowner has been praised for re-positioning electric fencing which she erected six weeks ago to protect her horses from rampaging dogs, writes Andrew Keddie.
Kate Brownlie made the decision after concern was raised at the last meeting of the town’s community council that pets and children could be harmed if they came into contact with the two live wires which had been installed along the length of a post-and-rail timber fence at Haughhead.
The two parallel wires, clearly signed as being live, were on the outside of the fence close to the popular Mill Meadow footpath which runs alongside the Leader Water.
“I am delighted an amicable solution has been reached,” said community council chairman Harry Cummings after the wires had been repositioned, at Ms Brownlie’s expense, inside the fence.
“I think there have been misunderstandings regarding this, not least the fact the pathway is in the ownership of the Brownlie family and Ms Brownlie was perfectly within her rights to erect the fence.
“It was the generosity of the family which allowed the riverside route to become a popular feature of the network of paths created by the Earlston Paths Group over the past six years. This network is a tremendous asset for locals and visitors to enjoy.”
Ms Brownlie, a respected horse breeder, told TheSouthern her decision to put up the electric fencing was “born of necessity”.
“Over the last five years, the behaviour of dog owners using the path has becoming increasingly irresponsible,” she said.
“I have an important business to run and, apart from dogs running wild in the field, spooking the horses and leaving their excrement, thoughtless members of the public were indiscriminately feeding the horses over the fence.
“My horses are on a carefully controlled diet and I recently lost one to colic after it was fed by a member of the public. That was the last straw and I resolved to install the electric wires: the lower one to deter dogs and the higher one to deter humans. The shocks are mild and quite harmless to children, despite what has been rumoured.”
Ms Brownlie said a police officer who was at the community council meeting visited her.
“Apparently, while I had been criticised, there was a lot of support for my stance and an appreciation that I was at the end of my tether,” she said. “Although no harm could come to anyone from the electric wires, I have agreed to move them, at my own expense, behind the wooden fence and I only hope this will be a sufficient deterrent.
“If owners continue to allow their dogs to run wild in my field, it could have disastrous consequences, particularly for vets and blacksmiths who may be attending to horses if they become spooked.”
Leaderdale and Melrose councillor Nicholas Watson said: “I appeal to dog owners to be responsible and would remind the public that horses can be made quite ill even if fed a sandwich,
“This is clearly not a deliberate attempt to stop people using the path and Ms Brownlie should not be criticised for protecting her animals.”
Another local councillor, John Paton-Day agreed: “I was fearful for the wellbeing of children when I attended the community council meeting, but I was unaware of the difficulties Ms Brownlie has faced. Moving the electric wires is a wise compromise.”