A new Bill before the Scottish Parliament will, if passed by MSPs, allow much stricter measures to be taken against those who allow their dogs to worry livestock.
The maximum penalty will increase to a £5,000 fine or imprisonment for six months.
SNP MSP Emma Harper, who was brought up on a farm in the south west of Scotland, has made the cause her own in recent years culminating in the publication this week (May 19) of the Livestock Worrying - Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill.
It will now pass to stage one scrutiny at Holyrood.
Apart from the increased penalties the new legislation will allows the courts to ban a convicted person from owning a dog or allowing their dog to go on agricultural land.
It will also give police greater powers to investigate and enforce livestock worrying offences.
Significantly this includes going onto land to identify a dog, seize it and collect evidence from it. Other organisations could be given similar powers.
The term ’livestock worrying’ will be extended to additional types of farmed animals beyond sheep.
The definition of ’worrying’ will be widened to include chasing, attacking and killing animals.
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “Current penalty levels and associated legislation have not presented enough of a deterrent to prevent reckless dog owners from allowing their dogs to carry out livestock attacks.
"To address that, we welcome the publication of the draft Bill and the measures that it proposes. Because livestock worrying remains a considerable issue for our members, we view this Bill is a vital stepping stone in the fight to reduce this blight on the countryside.”
Mr McCornick went further proposing that the Bill could include measures to compensate farmers for losses incurred due to dog worrying.
Ms Harper said: “I am pleased, after almost two years of rigorous consultation, stakeholder engagement and a drafting process, that I have now formally introduced my Bill to the Scottish Parliament where it will shortly proceed to the three-stage legislative process before hopefully becoming law in Scotland."