The RSPCA is reminding dog owners and walkers of the importance of keeping their pets under control to avoid devastating attacks on livestock.

As summer approaches, dog owners and walkers look forward to exploring exciting new places on foot and enjoying relaxing countryside walks, but it’s likely they will meet grazing livestock along the way.

RSPCA inspector Tony Woodley, who is based in Sussex explains how easily livestock such as sheep and horses can become anxious and worried by dogs and walkers.

He said: “Whilst the vast majority of people take care as a matter of course sadly accidents can happen and even the most docile and obedient dogs can get distracted and excited by grazing animals.

“You may think that if your dog momentarily chases a flock of sheep and comes back relatively quickly that there would be no harm done, but even if there is are no visible injuries, actually it could be causing the animals a lot of worry and anxiety, which can be really harmful to their health. Ewes have been known to abort unborn lambs whilst under stress which is just tragic.”

In more extreme cases, severe attacks can happen which have a devastating effect on the livestock, resulting in severe injury and death.

Inspector Woodley added: “Dog owners should also remember that it is completely lawful for farmers to shoot a dog to protect their livestock - which no one wants to happen. Owners could also be prosecuted by police if their dog is caught worrying livestock.

“There is a very simple way to stop any of this happening though – keep your dog on a lead around livestock.

“If dog owners can spread the word about being responsible around livestock that will really help too.”

The RSPCA is a charity and we rely on public donations to exist. To assist our inspectors in carrying out their vital work please text HELP to 78866 to give £3. (Texts cost £3 + one standard network rate message.)