THOSE found guilty of livestock worrying, should be punished more severely.

This was the message as an Argyll man was sentenced to 80 hours community service for a sheep attack – which cost the farmer in question £4100.

Nicholas Rowley, of Rothesay, allowed four of his dogs to seriously injure and kill 17 sheep on farmland near Inveraray in March of this year. The injuries inflicted on the sheep were so severe that photographs taken afterwards were deemed unsuitable for publication.

Mr Rowley previously pled guilty to this offence at Lochgilphead Sheriff Court, with Sheriff Thomas Ward stating that he was in no position to pay a fine or any compensation to the farmer. Sheriff Ward expressed frustration that under the current legislation he was unable to impose a prison sentence, nor could he disqualify Mr Rowley from keeping dogs.

The farmer, Brian Walker of Carloonan Farm, said that the outcome of the case was disappointing, but not surprising. He explained: “This incident was stressful. Although we took a heavy financial loss, this has not been my focus. The cost of the damage is high as these ewe hoggs would have been used on the farm for breeding.

“We have done everything by the book to ensure it was fairly, and properly put through the justice system, but we have been let down by antiquated legislation.

“It is evident that the farming community in Scotland doesn’t have any protection from livestock worrying, as the sanctions dog owners face are far too lenient to deter them from doing this again.

“For those suffering problems with dogs near or disturbing their livestock should contact their local dog warden to seek a Dog Control Notice. This is the only means available to control dogs causing persistent problems. I believe this has stopped another attack by these dogs.

“Unfortunately, once dogs have a taste for it, they are likely to attack again, and I fear the next time it may not be an animal, but someone’s child.”

NFUS president, Andrew McCornick, said: “This is a prime example of the importance of full, proportionate compensation for those impacted by livestock worrying.

"The maximum fine that can be imposed is £1000 under current legislation, but the costs to the farmer in this instance were over £4000.

“Despite the dogs in this case being subject to a DCN, the individual remains with four of his dogs in his care – a real worry for local farmers.

“The case also demonstrates that it should be possible for an individual to be remanded in custody, should they allow their dog to attack livestock – an inability to pay a financial penalty should not result in a lesser sentence being passed."

Inspector Julie McLeish of Police Scotland commented: “This was a particularly distressing incident and it is disappointing that, despite the high-profile campaign, livestock worrying still occurs. We will continue to work with partners to educate the public and fully investigate any incidents, with enforcement action being taken when possible.”