A short film featuring powerful first-hand accounts of the devastation caused when dogs worry sheep has been released by Scottish rural organisations ahead of the Easter weekend.
As thousands of people prepare to head into the countryside over the holiday, the Scottish SPCA, Police Scotland, vets and sheep and beef organisations have united behind a campaign to inform the public of the consequences of failing to control their dogs.
National Sheep Association (NSA) Scotland chairman John Fyall, vet David McLaren and Gill MacGregor a Scottish SPCA inspector feature in the film which is narrated by a dog lover. It describes the devastation of seeing lambs and ewes attacked and killed by dogs as well as the anguish and potential criminal prosecution dog owners face if they fail to control their dogs properly.
This united awareness follows a recent radio advertising campaign by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) livestock worrying campaign.
Kathy Peebles, NSA Scotland vice-chairman, said: “For farmers, as well as lost income, it is heart-breaking to witness horrendous injuries in the sheep they work hard to look after.
“For pregnant ewes, the result of being hounded by dogs can be miscarriage of unborn lambs and for ewes with young lambs at foot the result can be offspring getting separated from ewes and dying of hypothermia or starvation.”
Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn urged people to ensure their dogs were kept secure at home because in many cases the source of the problem is dogs which are unaccompanied and allowed to stray.
“The Scottish countryside is a great place for people to enjoy with their dogs but, by failing to think and take simple steps, dog-owners run the risk of a carefree walk turning into a nightmare.
“It can be hard for people to believe that their loyal, loving pet can change so dramatically when they start to chase sheep. The message is clear – don’t risk it.
“Be sheep-wise and keep your dogs under control in the countryside.”
Farmers and those who use the countryside are urged to report all incidents of livestock worrying to police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.
The film can be viewed on the QMS Facebook page or on Twitter at @qmscotland