POLICE have urged dog owners to keep their pets under close control in the countryside after an increase in reports of attacks on sheep.

PCSO Tom Balchin of Dorset Police's rural crime team said officers are dealing with a rise in incidents of sheep-worrying in the county. Lambs and sheep have been killed by dogs in recent weeks.

Dogs are usually not on leads or under close control when such incidents happen, he said.

"This has led to injuries and death of some sheep and lambs which is not only costly for the farmer but distressing for both the owner and animal," he said.

Speaking directly to dog owners, PCSO Balchin said: "If you’re out walking the dog on agricultural land and it worries livestock you are committing the offence of livestock worrying.

"We’re 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."

The penalty for dog owners prosecuted for the offence is up to six months in prison or a £1,000 fine.