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02 May 2016 | Online since 2003
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28 March 2014 03:03:51|News

Dog owners warned on sheep worrying as Easter approaches


With the better weather coming in and more people getting out and about in the countryside NFU Scotland is urging dog owners and dog walkers to keep their pets under control around livestock.
Incidents of sheep worrying are growing with more farmers across the country seeing their livestock distressed, hurt or killed by dogs. At this time of year, with fields full of pregnant ewes or ewes with young lambs at foot, an incidence of worrying can have a devastating impact on a flock and cause severe distress to the shepherd.
A case recently saw six sheep, worth around £900, being ‘worried and mauled to death’ on farmlands at Clerkhill near Eskdalemuir.
The clear and consistent message from the Union is for members of the public to be responsible, and to keep their pets under control
Scott Aitkens, of Kipps Farm, Linlithgow has had regular problems with dogs being allowed off their leash by their owners and attacking his sheep.
He commented: “Over the last two years we’ve had several attacks where dogs have mauled our sheep, the most recent of which was two weeks ago. We want to stress that although you don’t see sheep or other livestock immediately in front of you in a field, it doesn’t mean they aren’t in that area.
“Whenever dog owners come to me looking for their dog that has run off on our land, they tell me the dog won’t bite and ‘just wants to play’. Would you put your children in a pen with lions that ‘just want to play’?
“Our plea is to keep your dog under control. If it doesn’t come back automatically when you call, then don’t let it off the leash. We don’t want to stop people going out to enjoy the countryside, however we need to make sure that they are being responsible. Our sheep are our livelihood and we can’t risk having them distressed, hurt or killed by dogs who have irresponsible owners.
“By following the simple messages in the Scottish Outdoor Access code that require dogs to be kept under close control in the countryside, these distressing incidents can hopefully be avoided.”

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