Mar 23 2012 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Friday
POLICE have warned locals to keep their dogs under control as farmers across Stirlingshire’s rural areas enter the traditional lambing period
Drymen community officer PC Tony Cummins stated he’d received several calls regarding sheep-worrying in recent weeks.
He also said: “The last [call] was on Sunday, March 18.
“On this occasion the dogs and their owner were traced.
“The owner has been charged and will now have to face a criminal prosecution.”
Towards the end of last month, Bridge of Allan PC Emma Roxburgh said there had been at least three attacks on livestock in the Sheriffmuir area recently, particularly near to Pendreich carpark.
She confirmed: “On each occasion the sheep has been injured and ultimately destroyed as a result of an attack by a dog being walked nearby.”
As a result of the issue’s recent prevalence, Central Scotland Police community planning officer Stewart Kerr this week urged residents to take relatively simple steps in a bid to avoid any further distress.
The former Callander community cop said: “I would suggest to dog owners that, where there is livestock present, they keep dogs on a lead when walking on public paths, even though legislation only suggests keeping dogs under ‘close control’.
“Where there are sheep out on hillsides, it is recommended that such areas are avoided by dog walkers until lambing time is over as even the presence of a dog in the vicinity of pregnant ewes can be stressful for them.
“In my experience this is particularly the case when several dogs are running together.
“A dog doesn’t have to touch or bite a sheep to cause damage when they are in lambing.
“The stress of the chase, or even the fear of a dog in their midst, can be enough to injure, abort an unborn lamb, or kill a sheep.
“Dog owners should be responsible, find somewhere away from sheep to walk their animals, and never assume their dog is not a threat to livestock.”
Clarifying the issue from a policing perspective, the officer added: “The person in charge of a dog is guilty of an offence if the dog worries livestock.
“‘Worrying’ includes a dog attacking or chasing livestock, or being loose in a field where there are sheep.
“The Scottish Outdoor Access Code is quite clear that access rights apply to people walking dogs provided that their dog is kept under proper control.
“Whilst perhaps a controversial point, it is worth remembering that farmers have the right to shoot dogs in the act of worrying livestock – subject to stringent conditions.”
PC Cummins continued: “Farmers take a great deal of pride, effort and care in looking after all their animals irrespective of the type, size and value of them.
“The special bond between sheep farmers and their own dogs is legendary and for them to have to despatch any healthy dog is very upsetting and is always seen as a last resort.”
FURTHER information on the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 has been posted on the ‘My Area’ section of the Central Scotland Police website, under the Drymen sub-heading.