Dog attacks on livestock cause suffering, distress and financial cost. It is a perennial problem for farmers, and with increased numbers of people walking in the countryside it might be particularly acute this spring.

In our recent webinar Fiona Scott and Kate Donachie had a conversation with Gill Carnegie, NFU Mutual and NFUS, about what is changing and what more needs to be done to make things better for farmers. We discussed the practical issues facing the sector and the support being provided by Police Scotland and the Scottish Government. We identified key themes for future action, education, engagement, and more visible enforcement.

If you missed the webinar you can watch the recording here.

The recently passed Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill provides for harsher penalties but, more importantly, Police Scotland has confirmed its commitment to combating these offences. The Scottish Government has also recognised the gravity and impact of livestock worrying and is considering a public information campaign to educate the public about their responsibilities and the consequences on animals and farmers.

The question of compensation was raised during consideration of the new Bill but was not ultimately included. At present it is difficult for farmers to obtain compensation for losses, and the civil and criminal recovery options don't offer good solutions. There may be scope for a dedicated compensation scheme in the future which would ensure farmers' losses were recognised and reimbursed swiftly.

There is no easy answer to the problem of livestock worrying and the new legislation itself is not a solution. A reduction in these crimes will likely need to be driven by practical action on the part of farmers themselves, in partnership with Police Scotland and the Scottish Government. The lack of effective compensation needs more consideration and perhaps separate legislation.

Brodies recognises this as an important issue for the sector and will continue to follow, support and report on progress.


Kate Donachie

Legal Director