Enjoy the Countryside but be Responsible

Union supports National GetOutside Day, but reminds dog owners to be responsible

Ahead of National GetOutside Day this weekend, NFU Scotland is reminding people to enjoy the countryside responsibly.

Whilst the Union fully supports people getting active and enjoying the fantastic countryside across Scotland, those who are taking to farmland with their pets are encouraged to keep control of their dogs and pick up after them.

Attacks on livestock continue to be a blight on Scottish agriculture, and whilst the majority of dog owners are responsible and keep their dog under control on farmland, there continues to be a minority who allow their pets to attack livestock.

In addition to this, many people are unaware of the impact leaving their pet’s poo in fields can have on livestock and wider agriculture.

Dogs can be infected and act as carriers of a disease known as Neospora caninum which is a parasite passed in their faeces. Neosporosis can result in miscarriage in cattle and sarcocystosis can be responsible for neurological disease and death in sheep. Dogs are important vectors in the lifecycle of both these dangerous parasites and owners picking up after their dog can help to reduce the risk of disease spreading.  There are no drugs currently available to control this disease in cattle or to cure infected animals, nor is any vaccine licensed in the UK to prevent Neosporosis at the current time.

In a survey of NFU Scotland members in 2015, 67 per cent of respondents highlighted dog fouling as being a problem on their land, with 34 per cent and 39 per cent reporting the issue as being responsible for livestock diseases and damage to crops respectively.

So, whilst people are encouraged to head out and make the most of the countryside, not just for National GetOutside Day, but year-round, they need to remember their obligations to control their pets and clean up after them.

Andrew McCornick, President of NFU Scotland commented: “We fully encourage people to get outside, get active, go a walk, run, cycle, hack, to see the countryside and areas they wouldn’t normally explore. However, we urge them to remember their obligations under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code to be responsible – close gates, follow pathways, keep their dog on a lead around livestock, and clean up after their pet and dispose of the faeces in a bin.

“The worrying of sheep and other livestock by domestic dogs can have a very damaging impact on the livelihoods of farmers as well as cause significant and unnecessary distress to the animals themselves.

“Anyone walking their dog in the countryside should ensure they are familiar with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and also ensure their dogs are adequately controlled so that they are unable to cause distress or injury to farm animals.”

Notes to Editors


Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Author: Ruth McClean

Date Published:

News Article No.: 136/18

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About The Author

Ruth McClean

Having worked in the communications and journalism industry for the last 11 years, NFU Scotland’s Communications Manager Ruth McClean understands the needs of journalists and has extensive knowledge of the wider agricultural industry. After growing up in Argyll and Bute and working in the area as a reporter for local newspapers for eight years, Ruth joined NFU Scotland in 2013 in her current role. She is also Editor of the Union’s membership magazine the Scottish Farming Leader.

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