Scottish Liberal Democrat representatives of Orkney and Shetland in Holyrood and Westminster have today asked dog-owners to take extra care while walking their pets during lambing season and calving season.
Pregnant and young farm animals are particularly vulnerable to attacks and worrying by dogs, while dog fouling can also cause disease problems in livestock. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code says that dogs should never be taken into fields where there are lambs, calves and other young farm animals. If going into a field with farm animals, dogs should be kept on a short lead or close at heel.
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said:
“While ‘spring’ is perhaps a relative term here in Orkney, we are nonetheless now entering the season where farmers will be working hard to care for pregnant ewes and cows, as well of course as their new-born offspring.
“Given this, I would ask that fellow dog-walkers join me in taking care to ensure that they don’t disturb livestock when out and about around the islands, avoiding them wherever possible and keeping pets under control at all times.”
Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said:
“Even if you don’t expect your dog to cause a problem, it is still vital to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and keep your dog under control. The fear animals experience from being chased, or even just from dogs being in the same field, can have devastating impacts, including causing miscarriages in pregnant ewes.
“Not only do animals experience stress from livestock worrying, but so do crofters and farmers who care for their livestock. Lambing and calving season is a particularly busy and important time for farmers and crofters. Taking extra care while dog walking allows farmers and crofters to go about their business without extra stress, and allows everyone to enjoy the countryside.”
Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael said:
“Lambing season is stressful enough at the best of times, for farm animals and for farmers and crofters. We don’t need to add loose dogs into that mix. It is on all of us to be responsible with dogs and to keep them on leash and safely away from ewes, cows and their offspring.”
“Spring is a great time to start getting out and about a bit more, but we cannot forget to look out for neighbours and friends and be responsible with our dogs.”