Dog worrying (disturbing) sheep is a crime

A three month Police Scotland campaign is being launched today (Tuesday 1st March) to raise awareness amongst dog owners about the devastating effects of livestock worrying.
downloadThe campaign will see Scottish Natural Heritage working with the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, a multi-agency partnership which includes Police Scotland, National Farmers Union of Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates, to encourage dog walkers to use the countryside responsibly.
The campaign seeks to highlight the impact of livestock worrying, ensuring that dog owners who live in or walk their dogs in the countryside act responsibly and keep their dogs under close control.
The worrying of livestock can have devastating consequences for farm animals and for farmers and their businesses and this campaign is being launched to coincide with the spring lambing period because this is when sheep are at greatest risk.
Attached is a letter highlighting the issues and penalties with a link to a website for further information:


This letter is to bring to your attention an increase in the number of sheep worrying reports received in the Ayrshire area. As lambing time approaches, Police Scotland has taken the decision to contact your community to highlight the seriousness of this crime and the penalties it incurs.

Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, the penalties for worrying livestock are:

 A Criminal Record and a fine of up to £1000 and the possibility of your dog being destroyed.

If a dog worries livestock on any agricultural land then the owner and, if different, the person in charge is guilty of an offence.  The legislation relating to this is contained in the Dogs Protection of Livestock Act 1953. Worrying can be defined as:

  • Attacking livestock
  • Chasing livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock or abortion or diminution in produce.
  • Being at large, not otherwise under close control or on a lead, in a field or enclosure where there are sheep

Unfortunately this can sometimes lead to the dog being destroyed in order to protect livestock, which I am sure is never a situation that any livestock owner wants to find themselves in.

Further information for dog owners can be found at

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