Police lead rural campaign to curb rise in dog attacks on farm animals

Police Scotland is spearheading a campaign launched by the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) to tackle a surge in attacks by dogs on livestock.

Police lead rural campaign to curb rise in dog attacks on farm animals

The number of cases in Scotland have quadrupled in in the past two years and is at a record level. There were more than 350 incidents reported last year and dog attacks on livestock cost Scottish agriculture more than £300,000 annually, according to claims data from insurer NFU Mutual.

The 'Your dog - your responsibility' campaign, which will last for five months, is aimed at ensuring that dog owners understand the traumatic impact and financial loss that attacks on livestock have on farmers.

Many attacks by dogs happen when owners are not present, according to the police. Key messages of the campaign include that owners are responsible for the actions of their dog, should keep dogs under control when livestock are around, staying as far away as possible, and must not allow them into fields with young animals.

The launch achieved media coverage across print, broadcast and online outlets. A series of events will take place across Scotland in the coming months to raise awareness of the campaign, which also highlights a rise in attacks by dogs on other animals such alpacas, llamas and horses.

As well as Police Scotland, SPARC members include the Scottish Government, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates, NFU Mutual, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

The coalition also includes the Forestry Commission, Confor, Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Community Safety Network, Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Young Farmers, Zero Waste Scotland, Neighbourhood Watch, Food Standards Scotland and the British Horse Society.

SPARC chair chief superintendent John McKenzie said: "Tackling livestock attacks is an important issue and remains a priority."

He added: "Further work requires to be done in highlighting not just the message about an owner or person responsible keeping a dog on a lead if there is livestock nearby, but a more general awareness message regarding responsible dog ownership, both in the home and when outside."

Steve Smith, head of news at Police Scotland, which provides comms support to SPARC, said: "The campaign is predominantly online using the social-media channels of Police Scotland and the partner agencies."

#RuralCrime and #LivestockWorrying are among the hashtags being used to promote the campaign on social media, and campaign events will use "local partnerships, case studies and local media".

Smith commented: "Given the length and high-profile launch of the campaign, which was well covered by a range of media, it is also anticipated that the number of reports of livestock worrying will increase, as we believe this is a much under-reported issue."

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