TOUGHER NEW legislation to crack down on dog attacks on livestock passed through the final stage of the Scottish Parliament with unanimous cross party support, on Wednesday evening.

As The Scottish Farmer went to press, the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill – brought forward by Emma Harper MSP – was debated for the third time and will now proceed to Royal Assent before becoming law in six months time.

Under the provisions of the Bill, dog owners could be slapped with a fine of up to £40,000 and/or 12 months’ imprisonment for letting their dog chase or kill livestock. The outdated 1953 UK Bill will also be modernised to extend the definition of livestock to include protection for the likes of alpacas, llamas and buffalo.

With lambing in full swing across the country and increased footfall expected in the weeks ahead as Covid restrictions lift, the Bill’s progress should hopefully serve to remind dog owners of what is at stake if their dog chases or kills livestock.

Ms Harper told The SF: “I have been working very hard with constituents, farmers and stakeholders for the past four years to update the 67-year-old legislation in relation to attacks on livestock by out of control dogs in the countryside.

“At the very beginning, I announced that I would bring the Bill forward at a Parliamentary event I sponsored for the National Sheep Association Scotland and I subsequently brought all stakeholders together at a meeting in the Parliament where I heard how the current legislation is outdated, does not act as a deterrent to those who allow their dogs to attack livestock and I heard from the legal bodies about how the current legislation can be confusing and that it is unconsolidated,” she explained.

“My Bill therefore brings the legislation up to date by strengthening the penalties for those who allow their dogs to worry or attack livestock, it extends the definition of livestock to include different types of farmed animal – like llamas and alpacas – which are not covered by the 1953 Act, and it provides greater clarity and powers to the courts and legal bodies on the enforcement of the offence.

“This Bill – as passed today, the last Bill of this session – will undoubtedly afford better protection to Scotland’s agricultural community from attacks on livestock by dogs, and I hope it will also help to educate the public on the seriousness of the offence and on the importance of responsible access to the countryside, particularly with dogs.

“I want to thank The Scottish Farmer, along with all other stakeholders, for supporting the Bill from the beginning and on helping to keep Scotland’s agricultural sector and public updated on the Bill as it has passed through the Parliament.”