A "frenzied" dog attack on lambs in Fife has prompted calls for the full force of the law to be used against irresponsible dog owners.

Police Scotland launched an appeal for information after 16 lambs were killed and four were injured in a field in Kelty, causing an estimated £7000 damage.

Grace Reid, National Sheep Association (NSA) Scottish region co-ordinator, said: “These attacks can happen at any time of year – by any dog of any age. It’s definitely on the rise, but it’s the norm now and we cannot allow that to happen.

“It’s only been around 18 months since Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Amendment Scotland Act 2021 came in and there haven’t been any high-profile cases since then, but we need to use this legislation, and if it isn’t being used to its full capability then why not?”

Reid said the NSA had launched a survey and asked members to rate the police response if they had an incident. The result from Scottish members was 3.17 out of 10, while across the UK it was four out of 10, which Reid described as "pretty dismal".

Perthshire South and Kinross-shire MSP, Jim Fairlie, who called a meeting to highlight the issue, said it was the second dog attack in his constituency in the past 10 days and 'quite often farmers don’t even bother reporting it anymore.'

He said: “I want to make people know, that if someone lets their dog go and play as they see, then that can result in a £40,000 fine, or 12 months in prison. People need to know the consequences to themselves as well as the farmers who are being affected by this.

“When we look at the case in Kelty that was a frenzied attack and that’s the kind of thing that should attract the maximum penalty in order to make sure people get the message. I haven’t seen a conviction of a £40,000 fine yet, but I guarantee it will only take one or two and people will be a hell of a lot more careful in the future if that happens.”

Fairlie warned that dogs on the loose in the countryside were a danger to lambs and sheep, and if they get among cows and calves, then cattle can chase a dog with potentially fatal consequences for the owner.

“We need to burst this myth that people have the right to roam. They don’t, they have the right to responsible access and it’s a very clear distinction,” he added.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland urged people to keep their dogs on a lead when walking near livestock and to ensure the dogs do not run or escape into fields on their own.