POLICE are reminding dog owners of their responsibilities following reports of attacks on livestock in the region, caused by dogs being walked off the lead.

Last year there we over 150 crimes recorded across Devon and Cornwall linked to livestock worrying offences; the number of these incidents also usually increase during the lambing season as we exit winter.

The call by the police to keep dogs on leads around livestock comes following a particularly nasty attack on a pregnant ewe near Holne.

PC Phil Johnson from the Teignmouth Crime Hub said: ‘Not only is this incredibly upsetting for the animals, this is also deeply distressing to the farmer. This particular farmer has had his livestock attacked ten times in the past year and all of these incidents are preventable.’

PC Johnston also has a warning to dog owners in general in relation to their responsibilities to livestock when walking their animals.

‘If your dog attacks livestock, you as the owner could be responsible for this crime. We see a rise in these incidents during the spring and lambing season, and this is when livestock are at their most vulnerable.

‘Not only could you be breaking the law, a farmer has the right to protect his livestock. If your dog is roaming free and bothering animals on the farmer’s land, your dog could be shot.

‘On top of that, you could also be liable for the costs of the damage your dog has caused to the livestock if the farmer wished to take civil action against you.

‘No matter how well trained or docile your pet is, the temptation to chase is a natural instinct that is sometimes hard for a dog to suppress.

‘The advice to dog owners is simple; exercise responsibly and keep your dog on a lead when near livestock.’