Farming leaders have called for tougher penalties on sheep worrying incidents after a man whose four dogs worried 17 sheep was let off with only 80 hours community service.
Nicholas Rowley of East Princes Street, Rothesay, inflicted more than £4,000 worth of damage on an Inveraray flock when four dogs in his possession seriously injured and killed 17 sheep.
But after being prompted to pay a £1,000 fine – the maximum allowed by the courts – the Argyll man admitted he was in no position to pay it or any other compensation to the affected farmer.
Photographs from the aftermath of the event were so severe they were deemed unsuitable for publication.
Sheriff Thomas Ward of Lochgilphead Sheriff Court said at the hearing last week (September 11) he was frustrated that under current legislation he was unable to impose a prison sentence or disqualify the 56-year-old from keeping dogs.
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said while he recognised the court had limited sentencing options, the Union stood by its ask for recognition of the ‘importance of full and proportionate compensation’ for dog attack victims.
He said: “Despite the dogs in this case being subject to a Dog Control Notice, the individual remains with four of his dogs in his care – this is a real worry for local farmers.
“The case also demonstrates that it should be possible for an individual to be remanded in custody, should they allow their dog to attack livestock – an inability to pay a financial penalty should not by default result in a lesser sentence being passed.”
Victim of the attack Brian Walker of Carloonan Farm said it had become evident the farming community in Scotland did not have any protection from livestock worrying incidents ‘as the sanctions dog owners face are far too lenient to deter them from doing this again’.
“We have done everything by the book since this happened to ensure it was fairly, and appropriately put through the justice system,” Mr Walker said.
“Even with doing this we have been let down by antiquated legislation.
“For those suffering problems with dogs near or posing a potential threat to their livestock, contact your local dog warden to seek a DCN to be put in place where appropriate.
“This is the only means available of being able to control dogs and causing persistent problems with livestock at the present time.”
Inspector Julie McLeish of Police Scotland said the team would continue to work with partners to both educate the public and ‘fully investigate any incidents with enforcement action being taken when we can’.