Ayrshire Rural Organisations and Police Scotland Combine Forces to Highlight New Legislation to Protect Livestock from Dog Attacks

Ayrshire rural organisations and Police Scotland have combined forces to highlight new legislation to protect livestock from dog attacks.

The Ayrshire Partnership Against Rural Crime and its partners were at Dumfries House on Sunday 10 April to promote the new legislation which protects animals from dog attacks through a range of measures.  

These include updating the livestock definition to include all other farmed animals alongside cattle and sheep; fines up to £40,000 and prison sentences for owners who let their pets worry, kill or injure farmed animals.  East Ayrshire region is very popular for dog walking and there has been an increasing numbers of farm animal attacks in the area.

In January, SPARC, the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, launched the Livestock Attack and Distress campaign with the slogan: ‘Your Dog – Your Responsibility’ to educate dog owners about the new legislation plus, where applicable, use the new powers to report owners of dogs which attack livestock.

The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2021 came into force on 5 Nov 2021, following a successful Members Bill brought by Emma Harper, MSP, supported by SPARC, NFU Scotland and livestock owners after continued attacks on farm animals by out-of-control dogs.

Under the new legislation, camelids such as llamas and alpacas, together with ostriches, game birds and farmed deer are now protected plus the inclusion of the word “attack” is welcomed as this clearly reflects the more serious aspect of such an incident.  The new law also includes provision to fine the owners of dogs that attack livestock up to £40,000 or even send them to prison.

The campaign will run through the lambing season, when sheep and lambs are most vulnerable to attacks and will be then run again in the autumn.  

Speaking at the event, NFU Scotland Ayrshire Regional Manager Christine Cuthbertson said: “We are lucky to have beautiful countryside in Ayrshire which includes the stunning Dumfries House Estate, but it is very much a working landscape. Easter is a time for the arrival of baby lambs and calves, and we ask that those taking access respect their own safety and that of expectant and new mums by avoiding fields with livestock and always having your dog on a lead or under very close control. We want people to enjoy their walks as it is so important for people’s wellbeing, but it is vital that dog owners act responsibly to keep everyone safe and well.”

Julie McLeish Inspector, Cumnock Doon Valley and Irvine Valley said: “Attacks on livestock by dogs is an emotive issue that impacts on rural communities throughout Scotland and Ayrshire is no exception, therefore Police Scotland welcomes this new legislation which can hopefully assist in preventing, reducing and tackling such instances.

“Its introduction is timely given the increase in dog ownership experienced during COVID and the aim of the campaign is designed to educate and raise awareness amongst dog owners, whether new or experienced, that their dog is very much their responsibility.”

PC Lynn Black, National Rural and Acquisitive Crime Unit, said: ‘We have 15 local PARC’s across Scotland currently and we have encouraged them all to support this national campaign. Ayrshire PARC are an enthusiastic and passionate group and their engagement with members of the public and partners at events like these is to be highly commended.”  

Notes for Editors

  • National Access Forum Advice to dog owners
    • Do not allow your dog to approach animals or people uninvited (in open country, it may not be obvious when animals are around).
    • Where possible avoid animals - release your dog if threatened.
    • Always keep your dog in sight and under control – if in doubt use a lead.
  • National Access Forum Advice to land managers
    • Consider public access and assess relevant risks.
    • If necessary, use helpful signs to highlight issues to users, removing them when not required.
    • Suggest reasonable alternative routes if needed.
  • Dog fouling is an issue that continues to be reported across rural areas of East Ayrshire and Enforcement Officers from the Local Authority will be increasing their activity in this regard. Failing to remove dog mess is an offence that carries an £80 on the spot fine. Offenders may also be reported to the Procurator Fiscal for consideration for prosecution. A maximum £500 can be imposed in Court as well as a criminal conviction recorded against the offender. So please be a responsible dog walker and bag and bin all dog waste.
  • The APARC is a voluntary, grassroots partnership with Police Scotland and representatives from NFU Scotland, NFU Mutual, Ayrshire Association of Young Farmer Clubs, Ayrshire Agricultural Association, East Ayrshire Council, South Ayrshire Council, North Ayrshire Council, Scottish Land & Estates, Forestry and Land Scotland, British Horse Society, private landowners and Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspection Division.
  • Suggested picture caption.  Ayrshire rural organisations and Police Scotland combined forces to highlight new legislation to protect livestock from dog attacks in a campaign launch at Dumfries House.
  • Photo credits: Kris Clay photography


Contact Bob Carruth on 07788 927675

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 25/22

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About The Author

Bob Carruth

A dairy farmer’s son, I joined NFU Scotland in 1999 after 13 years as an agricultural journalist. Following spells as a regional manager and policy lead on milk, livestock and animal health and welfare, I became Communications Director in 2008.

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