Kirkcudbright farmer backs new livestock attack bill

People whose dogs attack livestock could face up to a year in prison, under new legislation being proposed by the south of Scotland MSP Emma Harper.

It aims at reducing 'livestock worrying', by imposing tougher penalties on dog owners who fail to control their pets. 

Nicola Sanderson, a farmer from Kirkcudbright, has had her animals attacked by dogs owned by people walking near her land.

Nicola Sanderson, Dumfries and Galloway farmer. Credit: ITV News

She told ITV Border: "You feel sick to your stomach, your heart is in your mouth and you don't know what it is you're going to find.

"We were lucky as there was no damage done, but a great many farmers up and down the country are not so lucky. You invest a lot of emotion and time into your stock and it's awful to see any animal injured or hurt."

Nicola is in favour of tougher penalties in a new bill, that once amended could see owners whose pets attack livestock face up to 12 months imprisonment, a £40,000 fine, or both and banned from owning a dog.

MSP Emma Harper Credit: ITV News

MSP Emma Harper said: "The legislation that exists right now is 67 years old and farming practises have changed and a lot more people accessing the outdoors as well as a consequence year on year we've seen the numbers of attacks by out of control dogs increase." 

"There's very rare cases where people blatantly ignore the law and they were serial offenders so it would be a very rare circumstances but we wanted to build it into the legislation to allow the crown office a range of options, tools in the toolbox to deal with the range of issues we've heard about" 

Finlay Carson MSP Galloway and West Dumfries. Credit: ITV News

A fellow South of Scotland MSP will be supporting the bill when it's debated by MSPs tomorrow but says it doesn't go far enough.

Finlay Carson, MSP Galloway and West Dumfries, said: "My concern is it should've been part of a bigger piece of legislation to look at the control of dogs and every aspect of life this is one piece of the jigsaw but i would've like to see more comprehensive legislation"

The Bill will be debated by parliament on Thursday, January 21