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Animal Concern Advice Line News

Moffat Sheep Event Update

July 29th 2017: ACAL has hit a setback in their campaign to stop a sheep racing event in southern Scotland. More about the event and how you can help.

Dear Supporters,

I promised you another e-mail and here it is. It's about sheep but it is also about more than sheep - it's about how different organisations interpret our animal protection laws.

At the beginning of July a member of Animal Concern asked me to circulate a petition against the Moffat Sheep Race. I get dozens of requests to circulate petitions and other appeals but have to reject most of them or I would be doing nothing else. Before I agree to circulate anything I try to check the validity. Last year I discovered a petition with nearly 100,000 signatures was aimed at totally the wrong target, a body unconnected to the issue involved. Many petitions and surveys are designed to get money out of you. Signing them results in being pestered by phone, e-mail and letter by commercial fund-raising companies.

I checked out the Moffat Sheep Race. It's a “fun” event which has been held every year for the last five years. The aim of the event is to boost visitor numbers to the town of Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway. This “fun” event involves strapping knitted jockey figures to the backs of sheep and forcing them to run around the streets of Moffat while being cheered on by upwards of 5,000 spectators.

You don't need to be an animal behaviourist or even have a high IQ to realise that running around very busy town streets with a jockey stuck to your back is not natural sheep behaviour and is more than likely going to scare the fleeces out of them.

I decided not to waste your time by circulating the petition as it was not necessary. This race obviously breaches the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act of 2006 and I would get the local council to order the organisers to call it off

I wrote to Dumfries & Galloway Council on July 5th stating that the sheep race; “ ... may well contravene the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act of 2006. Section 24 of the Act requires that an animal is kept in a suitable environment, is able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns and needs to be protected from suffering (including mental suffering such as fear and stress), injury and disease. A town street is not a suitable environment for a sheep and racing other sheep with a stuffed jockey on its back is not a normal ovine behaviour pattern. I ask your Department to intervene now and advise the organisers to abandon this event before any criminal offence is committed.”

On 25th of July I was astounded to receive a reply from the Council stating; “The Local Authority, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the Scottish SPCA have held discussions with Moffat Promotions, the organisers, in relation to the sheep racing event taking place in Moffat.

Following these discussions, we are satisfied that the event is lawful with regard to animal welfare.”

I am disgusted that the Scottish SPCA appears to have sided with the Council on this. The SSPCA helped shape the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act of 2006 and welcomed the fact that this new law recognises animals suffer stress and anxiety and makes it possible to act to prevent subjecting animals to such cruelty rather than having to wait until the animals have suffered before being able to take action.

On 25th July I replied to the Council saying I disagreed with them, the SSPCA and the Government Animal and Plant Health Agency on this. I copied my e-mail to the SSPCA and APHA asking them to change their stance on this but have had no replies so far.

So that will teach me for being a smart ass. It's not too late to sign that petition. You will find it here

As well as signing the petition could you please e-mail the Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council and ask them to use the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act of 2006 to ban the Moffat Sheep Race. Councillor Elaine Murray: elaine.murray2@dumgal.gov.uk

You might also like to contact the Scottish SPCA and ask them why they think abusing sheep in this way does not contravene the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act of 2006. You'll have to go to the SSPCA website and fill out their contact form:

That's all for the moment. After all that talk about sheep I'm off for some kip.

Cheers 4 now,

John