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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S6W-08086
Asked by: Emma Harper, South Scotland, Scottish National Party
Date lodged: 19 April 2022

Question

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to the supplementary question during First Minister's Questions on 20 January 2022, during which the First Minister commented that the Scottish Government will take appropriate steps to raise awareness of the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2021, what action has been taken and what measures are being considered for the future.

Current status: Answered by Mairi Gougeon on 28 April 2022


Answer

The Scottish Government, in November 2021, issued a joint protocol for the examination of dogs suspected of livestock worrying and seized by Police Scotland under the 2021 Act. That offers guidance to veterinarians who may be asked to examine such dogs.

The Scottish Government considers that education is the key to ending livestock worrying incidents and the associated unnecessary suffering for all involved. While not solely focussed on livestock worrying, the Scottish Government undertook an awareness raising digital campaign, in partnership with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in March 2021 to promote responsible dog ownership. The campaign was re-run in September and December 2021, to further emphasise the importance of training pet dogs correctly; and reminding dog owners of their legal responsibilities to keep dogs under proper control in order to prevent and reduce the risks of incidents occurring.

The Scottish Government supported the introduction of the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, which gained Royal Assent on 5 May 2021, and accords with advice in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code on responsible behaviour for people walking dogs. These messages are promoted widely on social media by NatureScot as part of on-going communication campaigns promoting responsible behaviour in various outdoor settings.

The Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) has also been supporting the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2021. In January 2022 they launched a national Livestock Attack and Worrying campaign with the slogan ‘Your Dog – Your Responsibility’ designed to educate and raise awareness about the new legislation amongst dog owners, whether new or experienced. This attracted significant media attention from TV, radio, written and social media forms with the campaign lasting 5 months until end of May 2022.

Numerous local Partnerships Against Rural Crime have supported the national campaign and kept focus on the new legislation by holding local launches. SPARC is promoting a second national launch to highlight the issue once more in the Autumn and will further promote the legislation at the agricultural events and shows it attend this year.