Police issue warning to dog owners in the Highlands and islands after a number of sheep worrying incidents
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Police in the Highlands and Islands have issued a warning to dog owners to keep animals under control when near livestock.
In an online plea, officers said dogs chasing livestock can do serious damage, and all incidents should be reported to them on 101.
Warning owners to keep your dogs under control to keep livestock safe, it issued advice to people though out the north.
A spokeswoman for Highlands and Islands police said: "We are urging dog owners to be aware of the laws and act responsibly around livestock ahead of the lambing season starting.
"Dogs chasing livestock can do some serious damage. The stress of the chase alone is enough to cause animals to die or pregnant animals to miscarry. As well as the distress and harm caused to animals, these incidents have both a financial and emotional impact on farmers.
"If a dog is found to have worried livestock then the owner and, if different, handler of the dog at the time, could face criminal action."
It continued: "All dogs should be kept under proper control at all times. In respect of livestock worrying, the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 is the primary legislation for offences of this nature. The term ‘worrying’ means:
- Attacking livestock
- Chasing livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock
- Being at large (not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep."
Constable Beverly Flett from Kirkwall police station in Orkney said: “All dogs have an instinct to chase, even if they are usually obedient and this heightens if they are around other animals.
“We’d urge farmers and members of the public to report all incidents of livestock worrying to us so that we can thoroughly investigate.
"We work closely with partners to support livestock owners and, where criminality is identified, will enforce the legislation and ensure offenders are held accountable.”
Anyone with concerns, or wishing to report a crime, should contact Police Scotland on 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.
Read more about sheep worrying concerns here.