POLICE are urging dog owners to be responsible to ensure the safety of livestock and their pets.

During this time of year and over the coming weeks, mother sheep and their lambs will be released into the fields to graze.

Allowing a dog to worry or attack livestock is a criminal offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.

This involves any action by your dog that causes distress to the animal.If your dog is worrying sheep, the landowner has authority to shoot and kill your dog.

You can also have your dog seized and face up to £1,000 in costs.

A police spokesperson said: “When walking your dog, please keep your dog on a lead around livestock and keep to designated paths.

“If you see anyone causing distress or allowing their dog to roam close by, call them out and report it to us, sharing as much information as possible, including a description of the person and dog.

“The injuries that sheep suffer from dogs is completely avoidable. These incidents also put the lives of unborn lambs at risk, as well as potentially leaving young lambs with no mother. This is not to mention the loss to the farmer and the distress of those who witness these attacks.

“We are so fortunate to have such beautiful landscapes and it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure its safety.

“South Yorkshire Police are committed to tackling rural crime and are signed up to countrywide Operation Recall, a national initiative raising awareness of the trauma and suffering sheep worrying can have, as well as the financial and emotional impact on farmers.”