DOG OWNERS in Yorkshire are being warned to keep their animals under strict control during the lambing season after a spate of incidents in which 18 sheep have been killed and more than 30 injured in the past six months on farmland in the North East.
"The message to all dog owners, whether they live rurally or are simply visiting the countryside for a walk, is to keep their pets under control at all times and on a close lead when walking anywhere near livestock," says Dorothy Fairburn, Yorkshire director of the Country Business and Landowners' Association.
"Even the most faithful and loving family pet can turn into a savage and merciless killer when away from its owner's control and confronted by a flock of sheep. The danger is greatly increased when two or more dogs get together and the pack hunting instinct takes over."
A North Yorkshire police spokesman said: "In the main, dog owners are fairly responsible in this area, but we welcome this timely reminder. We have four reported incidents so far this year, compared to three last year."
The CLA says the danger is greater in those parts of the region where farmland is close to housing and major centres of population.
"Too many people still mistakenly think that the dogs are only playing, "says Miss Fairburn and adds the warning:
"Dogs caught worrying sheep are liable to be shot, even though farmers are reluctant to do this except as a last resort, and their owners liable to prosecution and heavy costs."