Public warned dog owners to keep them under control in rural areas

Kent Police is reminding dog owners to keep their pets under control in rural areas to reduce the risk of sheep miscarrying during lambing season.

Farmers are within their rights to shoot and kill dogs if they are deemed to be causing distress to flocks, as such attacks can often lead to huge financial losses.

Owners can also be prosecuted if their pets are let off their leads while in a field or enclosed space with sheep present.

PC Michael Laidlow of the Kent Police Rural Task Force said: ‘As we enter the lambing season it is especially important people know what can happen if their dogs run loose and kill or injure livestock.

‘Sheep represent a farmer’s income and are often worth a substantial sum. If attacked, the veterinary bills farmers face can leave them substantially out of pocket.

‘If sheep-worrying is proved, it can mean the dog owner or person in charge being sued for damages to recompense that loss.

‘By ensuring dogs are kept under control when sheep or other livestock are present, owners can significantly reduce the chances of any of the animals involved coming to harm.’

Kent Police receives an average of six reports of sheep-worrying per month.

One farmer was left counting the cost last September when three sheep were killed and 42 injured by dogs that entered his field in Shorne, near Gravesend.

PC Laidlow added: ‘Months of hard work and preparation can be ruined in just a few minutes by dogs that have been left unattended and off their leads, so please keep your pets under control to prevent any further incidents being reported.

‘Remember that where there may be no livestock in a field one day, the same location could be full of animals the next.’

Anyone who witnesses sheep being chased or attacked should report it immediately to police by calling 999.