A Holyrood committee has issued a call for evidence on proposals to introduce fines of up to £5,000 or six months’ imprisonment for people who fail to stop their dogs attacking livestock.
The Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) committee is seeking views on a member’s bill put forward by South Scotland MSP Emma Harper.
The bill, which aims to strengthen and update the law in relation to livestock worrying, would extend the livestock worrying offence to cover additional types of farm animal, and rename the offence as that of “attacking or worrying livestock”.
The maximum penalty would be increased to a fine of £5,000 or six months’ imprisonment, and courts would be given powers to ban a convicted person from owning a dog or allowing their dog to go on agricultural land.
It would also give the police greater powers to investigate and enforce a livestock worrying offence, including being able to go on to land to identify a dog, seize it and collect evidence from it.
“Dog attacks cause suffering to farm animals, resulting in distress and significant financial cost to farmers,” said REC committee convener, Edward Mountain MSP.
“Emma Harper believes the current law in relation to livestock worrying is out of date and that tougher enforcement powers and penalties are needed to act as a deterrent.
“The purpose of the committee’s call for evidence is to understand the need for further legislation in this area and to seek views on whether the additional powers and increased punishments proposed are sufficient and proportionate.”
Farm leaders have backed Ms Harper’s bill and NFU Scotland (NFUS) says the current penalty levels have not acted as enough of a deterrent to prevent people allowing their dogs to attack livestock.
The call for evidence is open until August 28, and any views can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org