THE number of incidents involving livestock worrying is increasing, police warn.

More than 40 incidents were reported in 2018, according to Dorset Police, and new cases have already been recorded this year.

PCSO Tom Balchin, of Dorset Police Rural Crime Team, said: “There have been 40 times dog owners failed to have their dog under their close control near livestock and did not consider what their dog may do. 'My dog has never done anything like this before’ is repeatedly seen on police incident logs."

Dog owners were identified and dealt with by police in 11 cases. Dog Behaviour Contracts have been issued and compensation was paid to a farmer. Three more cases are ongoing.

Just five days into the new year, Dorset Police received a report of a dog attack in the county.

PCSO Balchin added: “We are asking dog owners to be responsible when out enjoying our countryside.

“Keep all dogs on a lead around any livestock and remember to always release the lead if chased by cattle and get yourself to safety.

“Worrying is traditionally thought of as a dog biting or attacking livestock, but it also means chasing livestock in such a way as may be reasonably expected to cause injury or suffering and not having a dog on a lead or under close control when close by, or in a field or enclosure with livestock.”

In September, a lamb was put down after being viciously attacked by a dog seen chasing sheep round fields off Dottery Road, Bridport.

In January last year, a heavily pregnant ewe was euthanised after a horrific attack in Waytown.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) estimated the cost to agriculture of livestock attacks in the south west as £240,000 in 2017.

The penalty for livestock worrying can be six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £1,000.

If you see anything suspicious, call Dorset Police on 101. If you see a dog worrying or attacking livestock, call 999.

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