‘You think your dog is just playing with sheep…that could change’

The National Farmers Union for Scotland (NFU Scotland) and local police in the Lothians and Borders region are teaming up for an initiative to tackle livestock worrying, part of the ‘Control Your Dog’ campaign.

The initiative is also aimed at other negative habits of “irresponsible” owners, including how they handle dog fouling on farm land.

“Attacks on livestock are happening all too often and we need the support of local dog owners to help prevent this. You think your dog is just playing with the sheep, but that could change in an instant and you will have no way to stop it when it starts to attack,” said Lindsey Brown, NFU Scotland’s regional manager for Lothians and Borders.

Brown met with Police Scotland on Saturday, March 30, to officially launch the new programme, where local dog walkers were addressed on the importance of keeping their pets on a lead and under control.

Local events are set to take place throughout the region in the coming months to highlight these issues, and to educate people about how to be responsible when walking on or near farmland.

The groups concerned are asking people to observe the following rules: know your route in advance of taking you dog for a walk; keep it on a lead around livestock and have a plan if it escapes or cattle charge you; and if your dog relieves itself, pick up what it leaves behind rather than throwing it into a field or hedge, and have bags on hand for this purpose.

Back in December, NFU Scotland conducted a survey of farmers, crofters and landowners, which was answered by 340 respondents.

That survey found that 72% of respondents had an issue with livestock worrying on their land, while 100% said they had an issue with dog fouling on their land, which can result in livestock contracting diseases.

“With many farms and fields being nearby to public areas, particularly in Lothians and Borders, it is even more important that dog owners ensure their pets are kept on a lead around farm land, and that they pick up after their pets,” argued Brown.