NFU Scotland welcomes passing of ‘landmark’ Protection of Livestock Bill

NFU Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s decision to pass the landmark Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Bill and congratulated Emma Harper MSP for her valuable work over four years “in driving through this hugely important piece of legislation”.

NFU Scotland said that the Bill will significantly increase the powers of investigation and penalties to tackle the ongoing blight of dog attacks on livestock and dog fouling.

The union said these are two of the biggest issues that farmers, crofters and landowners face through irresponsible access by dog owners.

The Bill provides for penalties to extend to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months; to a fine not exceeding £40,000; or both.

NFU Scotland 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 Scottish elections in May.

‘Daily’ dog attacks

NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy said: “With dog attacks on livestock occurring daily, and irresponsible dog ownership persisting, I want to thank Emma Harper for her tireless efforts in bringing forward this landmark Bill to address this.

“As someone who has seen 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,” Kennedy added.

“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,” he concluded.