Campaign to Curb Dog Fouling on Agricultural Land

SCOTLAND, UK - A Scotland-wide campaign to get dog owners to clean up after their pets on agricultural land is being launched following successful discussions with farmers, politicians and other stakeholders.
calendar icon 6 May 2014
clock icon 5 minute read

NFU Scotland will submit a petition to the Scottish Parliament to have agricultural land included (with provisos) in the Dog Fouling Act 2003 and to include police and local authority enforcement powers within the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

spaniel in grassNFU Scotland members, John and George Munn from Mid Auchencarroch Farm, Alexandria, met with the Union’s regional manager for that area, Christine Cuthbertson, Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton and Mary Fisher, Secretary of the NFU Scotland Dumbarton and Kilpatrick Branch. Representatives from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), an access officer from West Dunbartonshire Council and local farmer Ewan Bennie of Merkins Farm, Gartocharn also attended the meeting on the Munn’s farm on Monday (April 28).

The serious issue of irresponsible access by dog walkers who use Mr Munn’s fields as an exercise area for their dogs, was discussed at length. Dogs not kept under proper control have caused distress to Mr Munn’s cattle and their faeces can prove a health risk.

The situation is so bad that the Munn family, because of the disease threat to animals, cannot utilise the field for breeding cows, as a combination of stress and disease from dog fouling has resulted in a significant number of abortions in the past.

Ewan Bennie also has issues with dog mess and chasing of his livestock on his own farmland and on ground he rents nearby.

Parasites found in some dog faeces, which is then eaten or passed onto the livestock, can result in the abortions of cattle and death in sheep with several reports over recent months.

It was established that the issues being caused by dogs are Scotland-wide and the following actions were agreed by the parties attending the meeting.

  • A local, public awareness campaign, including arranging site specific signage at problem areas and arranging signage and dog waste bins at strategic sites near affected fields was agreed to be taken forward by West Dunbartonshire Council.
  • Jackie Baillie MSP will write to the Lord Advocate to highlight the flaws within current legislation which does offer the police or local authority legislative enforcement powers under the Land Reform Act.
  • Ms Baillie will write to Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead about the concerns of farmers of dog fouling and chasing on farms.
  • NFU Scotland will submit a petition to the Scottish Parliament to have agricultural land included (with provisos) in the Dog Fouling Act 2003 and to include police and local authority enforcement powers within the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.NFU Scotland’s President, Nigel Miller will raise the issue, in person, with the Cabinet Secretary.
  • A review will take place in six months’ time with the various interested parties.

NFU Scotland will now organise a petition and carry out a member’s survey to gain opinions on the matter and build up case studies to then present with the petition to the Scottish Parliament in due course.

Farmer, John Munn, of Auchencarroch Farm, has been blighted by dog walkers bringing their dogs onto his land, and hopes the public will take heed of pleas to keep dogs off agricultural land.

He said: “The meeting on Monday was very positive and it was agreed that we really need a law change as a way forward to help us tackle irresponsible dog owners, not just in this area, but across the country.

“It is the minority who are irresponsible, and it’s not just normal dog owners that we are trying to target, but also working dog owners. People don’t realise the knock on effect, both in terms of the distress it causes to the livestock, but also the animal welfare aspect when dogs are allowed to foul on land.

“The countryside is there to be enjoyed by everyone, but it is also our place of work. It is our livestock’s home, and we really need people to take in the message about responsible access and cleaning up after your dogs, whether that’s pet dogs or working dogs, when on agricultural land.”

Regional Manager, Christine Cuthbertson commented: “Farmers and NFU Scotland members across the Forth and Clyde region have no issue with people taking responsible access with their dogs into our beautiful countryside, so long as they do so with respect and consideration to livestock and growing crops, farmers and fellow access takers.

“Dog mess can cause very serious ill effects in cattle and sheep and I would urge people to clean up after their dogs. Dog owners should also be mindful that dogs can cause considerable distress to pregnant animals or cows and sheep with lambs and calves, so they should be kept under control on a lead or avoided all together, both for the protection of the livestock and themselves and their dog.”

Jackie Baillie MSP, said many people do not realise the problems that can be caused by letting dogs foul on agricultural land.

She said: “Dog litter has always been a concern for constituents in the towns I represent but many people do not realise that it can also cause major problems in the countryside too. Farmers like John Munn and Ewan Bennie work hard all year round but their livelihoods are under threat from dog walkers who let their pets chase cattle and leave their mess in the fields.

“The vast majority of dog-owners are responsible people but there is a small minority who let their dogs roam freely on farmland and refuse to pick up litter despite the very serious health problems it can cause livestock.

“It is important that local authorities and the Scottish Government find a way to raise awareness of the issue and examine whether new legislation is necessary to tackle the problem.”

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