East Lothian Police have warned that farmers are within their rights to shoot a dog if it is seen worrying or attacking sheep.

It comes after more sheep were killed and others aborted their lambs after being chased by a dog in East Lothian.

East Lothian Police confirmed that another sheep-worrying incident had been reported to them and have now warned dog owners of the potential criminal consequences of dogs chasing sheep.

A police spokesperson said: “We have received further reports of another sheep-worrying incident in the county where sheep have been killed, and others have aborted their lambs due to being chased by a dog.

“To tackle the issue of dogs attacking and worrying livestock, the Dogs (Protection of Livestock)(Amendment)(Scotland) Act 2021 is in force, and this is a priority for the ELPARC (East Lothian Partnership Against Rural Crime).

“If your dog is seen to be attacking/worrying livestock, the farmer is within their rights to shoot it, and if convicted, you are likely to receive up to 12 months in prison, up to a £40,000 fine or both.

“Always be wary if walking your dog in the countryside, and keep it on a lead if near livestock, as a dog’s instinct is to chase.

“Livestock attacks not only cause unnecessary suffering to the animals but damage the livelihood of our farmers.”

It comes after East Lothian Countryside Rangers warned the public not to allow their dogs to chase pregnant sheep after reports of incidents occurring at Barns Ness last week.

At the time East Lothian Countryside Rangers said: “Allowing your dog to chase or attack sheep is a criminal offence. Your dog should be under close control at all times. If you cannot guarantee that your dog will respond to command then it should be on a lead.

“"These sheep are pregnant and whilst it appears that they didn’t sustain any physical injuries, there is still the possibility that they could abort from stress.

“Not only is this horrific for the sheep, but these sheep and lambs are also someone’s livelihood.”

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “The Council works closely with Police Scotland and other agencies as part of the ELPARC to tackle incidents of rural crime and to also advise people of appropriate behaviours when enjoying the countryside.

“‘Sheep worrying’ has been a recognised offence for many years but a new Protection of Livestock law was introduced in Scotland in 2021 which has increased the penalties to a potential fine of up to £40,000 or a custodial sentence. This also expanded the definition of livestock to include cattle, goats, pigs, horses, farmed deer, enclosed game birds or poultry as well as sheep.

“Unfortunately some dog owners are unaware of the impacts their family pet may have on livestock and also fail to keep dogs under close control. Under certain circumstances land owners have the right to shoot dogs if they are attacking or causing distress to their animals. If you’re in the countryside with a dog and likely to encounter livestock always keep it in sight and preferably on a lead.”