All of Scotland’s 32 local authorities have been contacted by the government in an attempt to help better understand the actions being taken to curb the number of livestock worrying attacks in the country.
Scottish Government confirmed it was ‘seeking further information’ from each of its local authorities to determine how individual powers were being used and to lead the way on the uptake of practical measures to deal with out-of-control dogs.
Scottish Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing told a Scottish Parliament exchange last week: “It is a criminal offence for a dog owner to allow their animal to worry livestock, and local authorities have the power to issue dog control notices.
“We have written to all 32 local authorities, seeking further information about how they use their powers.
“It is, however, fair to point out some local authorities have been active on the issue, as is illustrated by the fact the number of dog control notices has risen from 92 in 2011 to 290.
“It is therefore plain that local authorities around the country are looking at the issue more seriously.”
During the exchange, South Scotland MSP Emma Harper – who has been working to publicise the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 – highlighted her intention to launch a consultation on a member’s bill to tackle the issue and provide clarity on the responsibility of dog owners in the countryside.
Mr Ewing said he was looking forward to seeing what action the Parliament could consider taking to address ‘a very serious problem for the Scottish farming community’.
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said the proposed Bill marked ‘welcome progress’ and the union would be working with Ms Harper going forward.
It mapped out five areas it said would merit inclusion in any new legislative guidance, including making livestock worrying a recordable crime, an update of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) to include the need for all dogs to be on a lead around sheep and giving Police Scotland the powers to issue dog control notices.
Mr McCornick said: “There is no such thing as an irresponsible dog, only irresponsible dog owners and this proposed Bill presents a genuine opportunity for Scottish government to back change that will make a massive difference to livestock keepers across the country.”