Dog walkers need to be sheep aware

Sheep worrying Kipps Farm.
Sheep worrying Kipps Farm.

Dog owners are being urged to keep their pets under control around livestock by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland.

Sheep worrying incidents are now growing, as more dog lovers take to the countryside to enjoy the better weather.

A growing army of farmers across the country are seeing their livestock distressed, hurt or killed by dogs.

Scott Aitkens, of Kipps Farm, Linlithgow, has had regular problems with dogs attacking his sheep.

He said: “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 there.

“Whenever dog owners come to me looking for a 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 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 message in the Scottish Outdoor Access code – that requires dogs to be kept under close control in the countryside – these distressing incidents can hopefully be avoided.”

It is at this time of year particularly, with fields full of ewes with young lambs, worrying can have a devastating impact, for animals and farmers alike.

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “We work closely with rural communities to identify and investigate any incidents of sheep worrying or injury to livestock caused by dogs.

“Any owners whose dogs are found to be responsible for these offences can expect to be dealt with by the police.”