CLA South East is urging dog owners to understand their responsibilities and the law to help prevent livestock being badly injured and killed during the lambing season.

Lambing season is a busy time of year for our farmers, and livestock worrying can have serious effects on animals including stress, injury and abortion. Sheep do not cope well with stressful situations and can even die from shock days after the event.

So CLA South East, which represents thousands of farmers, landowners and rural businesses in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight, is offering advice to dog owners to help avoid problems this season.

It comes after one recent incident left nearly 30 pregnant ewes dead after a dog attack in a field in Sittingbourne, Kent, which police described as “possibly the worst livestock attack we have ever had”.

CLA Regional Director Tim Bamford said: “We would advise owners to keep their dogs on leads when walking through fields of livestock, particularly sheep at this time of year, and to always stick to public rights of ways.

“If you live near land with livestock in it, ensure that you know where your dog is at all times, make sure your property is secure and check dogs can’t escape at any time.

“It is the owner’s responsibility to keep their dog under control and we are also raising awareness about the potential consequences of not doing so. Livestock worrying is a criminal offence and a fine of £1,000 can be handed out.

“It is also important that every instance of livestock worrying is reported to the police. This will allow for a more accurate picture of the scale of the problem to be built up, and assist the police and Government to determine what resources and powers are required in order to effectively tackle the problem.”

Where a dog is in the act of worrying livestock and there is, or is likely to be serious damage to those livestock, call police on 999. Alternatively, dial 101 to report an incident where the dogs are no longer present after an attack or to report problem dog behaviour. Photographs and videos of the worrying incident and/or the damage it caused can be extremely useful.

The CLA has teamed up with LEAF Education to help improve understanding of the Countryside Code by creating a resource pack for teachers and youth group leaders. The code, which was first introduced in 1951, was recently refreshed by the Government but is no longer taught in schools as a matter of course.