THERE HAS been fresh carnage on Scotland's sheep farms as a result of uncontrolled dogs – but for the first time, there are laws in place to properly punish dog owners found guilty of causing these attacks.

The Scottish Farmer:

The first test of that new legislation – the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2021 – may well be the shocking incident on Posso Farm, Manor, Peebles, where two unrestrained dogs went on a seven-hour rampage in the hills at Kirkhope, running wild amongst 300 pregnant ewes.

Posso is owned and operated by the Smellie family, dad Jimmy and brothers Alan and Sandy, and although the obvious toll those dogs have taken on their Blackface flock is already severe – 11 out right dead, 20 or so injured, and minor wounds on others in danger of infection – the likely effects on next month's lambing will inevitably prolong their agony, as many stressed sheep go on to abort.

Read more: Finding the facts about dog attacks on sheep

The Smellies' first indication of the trauma to come was a social media post by the wife of a man working locally, appealing for information about his missing dogs late on Thursday afternoon last week. Some time after, a neighbour caught up two dogs, reportedly bloodied, and they were collected by the owner who speculated that they might have been chasing deer in nearby forestry. It was only as the Smellies headed up into their hill ground at Kirkhope at first light on Friday morning that the true damage became apparent, with two casualty sheep found straight away. Both Police and vet were called, and DNA samples were taken to investigate a forensic link between the dogs and the bites. But as they headed further up the hill, more and more casualties were found, some still living despite huge injuries: "There was one still living, we didn't find her way up the valley til saturday, the dogs had eaten the back of her leg," reported Sandy. "It was carnage. There were dead sheep, there were big injuries, but there were also plenty smaller puncture wounds that could yet turn nasty.
The Scottish Farmer:

"They are a month from lambing, so if we try to gather them all for a proper look, we will just stress them more. There are four hefts up Kirkhope, and most of the damage seems to be in a heft of around 100 sheep... but we know from some of the sheep we found far from where they should have been, that the dogs chased them into the other hefts. There is every chance that all 300 of the sheep up there have been stressed."
The Scottish Farmer:

Police are now appealing for information about the incident – although there was a 'positive line of enquiry', they stressed the need for the investigation to proceed properly, without reaching conclusions before it was complete.

Sergeant David Rourke said: “Enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances and officers are following a positive line of enquiry.

“However, we are appealing for anyone who may have information that could help further with our investigation to get in touch. If you can assist then call us on 101, quoting incident number 0989 of Friday, 11 March, 2022."