Chief superintendent John McKenzie Head of Safer Communities for Police Scotland and chair of SPARC and Emma Harper MSP who is putting through the members bill on livestock worrying at today's photocall to launch a five-month multi-agency campaign to highlight the reality of livestock attacks and distress caused primarily by dogs at Penicuik House, Penicuik Estate, Midlothian by the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC).
The aim of the campaign - "Your Dog - Your Responsibility" is to ensure dog owners understand the distressing and emotive nature as well as emotional and financial impacts such incidents can have, not just on farmers but everyone having to deal with the aftermath.
Experience has shown that more often than not, livestock attacks and distress occur when dog owners living, working or enjoying the rural environment, are not present. Regardless of whether a dog has been let off a lead and not obeyed commands, whether someone else was in charge of the dog at that time; or through the increasing number of dogs left alone at home or in gardens then escaping, owners are reminded that they must take responsibility for the actions of their dog.
The campaign draws attention to other animals such as camelids, (currently not included under the definition of 'livestock') such as alpacas and llamas, plus horses due to reports being received of these animals being attacked with increasing frequency.
Over the next few months, local events will be held around Scotland concluding in May at Conic Hill, Balmaha, which is located within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. It is hoped by having a harder-hitting message that reaches communities throughout Scotland, that it will encourage farmers and landowners to report all instances of attacks and distress to their animals.
SPARC is made up of partners from across the rural community, including NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates, NFU Mutual, British Horse Society Scotland, Forestry Commission and Police Scotland. This new campaign complements work being done by rural organisations to combat livestock worrying and the impact it can have on farmers and landowners.
Chief Superintendent John McKenzie, who chairs SPARC said: "Tackling livestock attacks is an important issue and remains a priority for SPARC.
"Further work requires to be done in highlighting not just the message about an owner or person responsible keeping a dog on a lead if there is livestock nearby, but a more general awareness message regarding responsible dog ownership, both in the home and when outside. To that end, SPARC is launching this campaign with key messages of awareness raising, education and prevention."
BHS Scotland were delighted that Sarah and Constance were able to bring horses to the photocall and that equestrian worrying is very much part of this initiative -horses that are chased by dogs will get a sympathetic response from Police Scotland and BHS Scotland will continue to run our safe familiarisation days.