Nottinghamshire Police has reminded pet owners to keep their dogs on leads when walking through fields with sheep in after one ewe recently died.
Sheep represent a farmer’s income and are often worth a substantial sum. If they are attacked or killed, the loss farmers face can leave them substantially out of pocket.
A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman said: “We are thankful that there are many responsible dog owners in our county – but can you rely on your dog’s obedience, especially when they’re around sheep or other animals?
“Offences relating to dogs are taken very seriously by Nottinghamshire Police. Sheep worrying is a criminal offence and owners who allow their dog to carry out this activity could face a large fine or imprisonment.”
Sheep worrying can include dogs attacking animals physically, running after them or chasing the sheep around, especially when they are carrying lambs or there are young lambs within the flock. Dog faeces left on grazing land may also carry disease that can kill sheep and affect unborn lambs.
Advice for dog owners
When walking dogs in rural areas, dog owners are advised about the following:
Always ensure your dog is under control in an area where there are livestock or wild animals.
Be particularly vigilant during lambing season and always keep dogs on a lead during this time.
If your dog is not good with other animals or people, avoid letting them off their lead when others are around.
Don’t allow people who may not be confident in doing so or have full control over the animal to walk your dog.
Remember where there may be no livestock in a field one day, the same location could be full of animals the next.
Ultimately a landowner by law and as a last resort for protecting their livestock is able to shoot a dog which they believe is worrying sheep. Police must be notified within 48 hours if this course of action is taken.
Anyone who witnesses an incident of sheep worrying livestock or who has information relating to dogs being dangerously out of control is urged to contact Nottinghamshire Police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 immediately.