DOG owners are being warned to keep their pets under control after a rise in the number of attacks on livestock.
Officials at the National Farmers’ Union, based in Petersfield, have warned that dog owners could face prosecution if dogs are not kept under control.
John Archer, environment and land use adviser, said: ‘The vast majority of dog owners and walkers are considerate, but we’re very concerned at the rising number of attacks on livestock by dogs.
‘We’ve received countless reports of sheep being killed or injured by dogs this spring – one shepherd has witnessed four dog attacks on his sheep in eight days.
‘A handful of dog owners seem to think it is all right to allow dogs to run freely around farm animals.
‘Even if dogs don’t physically attack livestock, chasing them can cause pregnant cows and sheep to abort or lead to panicked stock getting tangled up in fences.’
The Countryside Code asks walkers to ‘keep dogs under effective control’.
Mr Archer added: ‘Lots of people will be out and about with their dogs, enjoying the countryside now that the weather is improving. But even the best behaved dogs have a chase instinct.
‘Remember livestock worrying is a crime and the law allows farmers to shoot dogs that are worrying livestock. We ask anyone who sees livestock being chased by dogs to immediately contact the farmer or police.’