The bill to strengthen powers to deal with dogs attacking livestock has been passed by MSPs on the final sitting day before the Scottish Parliament election in May.

A member's bill introduced by SNP member Emma Harper, the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill expands and modernises the definition of livestock "worrying" to include chasing, attacking and killing; gives additional powers to the police to allow them to seize and detain a dog suspected of livestock attack; and increases the maximum penalties. It also extends the definition of "livestock" to include llamas, alpacas and buffaloes.

Opening the final debate, Ms Harper said: "During the progress of the bill, we heard and saw evidence of the devastating financial and emotional impact that incidents of livestock worrying and attack can have on both animals and farmers. Those attacks continue to increase in number, as recent media reports show."

She added: "The bill will make a real difference to farmers and will, I hope, help to educate everyone about the importance of keeping our dogs under control around livestock. I hope to see a year-on-year reduction in incidents of worrying and attack and a rise in responsible access to our stunning countryside."

The bill was given unanimous backing.

After it, the session closed with tributes to Presiding Officer Ken McIntosh, especially for his handling of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his final remarks Mr McIntosh said: "Here in Parliament, politics can be a robust business – confrontational even – but even in the midst of the difficulties of recent weeks, colleagues have come together around the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill, and the Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill.

"It is worth remembering that most of what we achieve, we achieve by working together. I do not just mean by working across party lines; I mean, for example, the teamwork that is at the heart of the constituency office."

He added his appreciation of everyone who works at Holyrood. "Most of us know how committed, approachable and diligent our staff at the Parliament are, but, as Presiding Officer, I have had the opportunity to see that in spades."

One of 34 MSPs not seeking re-election, he concluded: "When I bang my gavel shortly, it will not just be to end the session and to say thank you to all those who are stepping down. It will be to mark the start of an election campaign and to wish good luck to all of you who are standing again. I will be here on 13 May to welcome you back, alongside perhaps 40 or 50 new faces, refreshed, reinvigorated and ready to work together for the benefit of our country. For that most of all, I want to thank you all."

Click here to view the official report.