A new nationwide campaign which sets out to protect sheep from dog attacks has been launched in Aberdeenshire.
Newmachar farmer and Scottish chairman of the National Sheep Association (NSA), John Fyall, has teamed up with Scottish SPCA inspector Gill MacGregor to front a short film highlighting the impact of dog attacks on sheep.
The ‘Sheep-Wise’ campaign, which has been devised by the NSA in conjunction with Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), has received backing from the Scottish SPCA, police and a range of rural organisations.
Timed to coincide with the Easter long weekend when thousands of people venture into the countryside with their four-legged friends, the campaign video aims to show the impact on both the farmer and dog owner when a pet attacks sheep.
Narrated by dog lover, the film features first-hand accounts of sheep worrying and an insight into the potential criminal prosecution dog walkers may face if they fail to control their pets in the countryside.
NSA Scotland vice-chairman, Kathy Peebles, said: “For farmers, as well as lost income, it is heart-breaking to witness horrendous injuries in the sheep they work hard to look after.
“For pregnant ewes, the result of being hounded by dogs can be miscarriage of unborn lambs and for ewes with young lambs at foot the result can be offspring getting separated from ewes and dying of hypothermia or starvation.
“The outcome could be a vet putting a healthy dog down which is distressing for the owner and could easily be avoided by following the countryside access code.”
QMS head of communications, Carol McLaren, said: “A key message of the campaign is that sheep worrying is not a dog problem – it is a dog-owner problem.
“Any dog – whatever breed, size or age – has the potential to chase sheep and cause considerable harm but the responsibility lies with owners to keep their dogs under control and out of trouble.”
Farmers and crofters are asked report all incidents of livestock worrying to the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.