Dog owners are being reminded to keep their pets under control following a number of incidents of sheep worrying across the county.

There have been reports from farmers of incidents in Cleeve Hill, Stroud and Bream over the past few days.

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

Officers from Tewkesbury Neighbourhood and Rural Crime Team are increasing patrols on Cleeve Hill following a sheep worrying incident on Monday, December 28.

The Cleeve Common Rangers and Police have now put up sheep worrying signs on the common, in an attempt to encourage people to walk their dogs on a lead.

Police are also investigating an incident in Claypitts, near Stroud, on Wednesday, December 30, when pregnant ewes were chased by a loose dog.

In the most recent incident, a collie was seen attacking sheep in Bream on Sunday, January 3.

Sheep represent a farmer’s income and are often worth a substantial sum. If they are attacked or killed, the loss that farmers face can leave them substantially out of pocket.

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.

Offences relating to dogs are taken seriously by Gloucestershire Constabulary. Sheep worrying is a criminal offence and owners who allow their dog to carry out this activity could face a large fine or imprisonment.

Police can seize and detain a dog where an officer has a reasonable cause to believe that the dog has been worrying livestock on agricultural land; and no person is present who admits to being the owner of the dog. It can ultimately lead to a dog being put down.

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. However, nobody wants to see this outcome.

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 police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 immediately.