DOG owners have been urged to keep their pets on a lead at all times in rural locations or near the edge of town where there are sheep or livestock.

A farmer on the outskirts of Cumnock had to move his entire flock recently after a pregnant ewe and her two unborn lambs were killed by a dog.

Rural crime officers are working with Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) teams in the area to make owners aware of the distress caused to sheep and consequences of uncontrolled dogs near livestock.

Ewes are currently pregnant, ready to give birth and are particularly at risk — the advice is simple, keep your dogs under close control or on a lead.

Willie Clark, NHW community engagement officer, said: “Be a responsible dog owner; Keep your dog under control and on a lead if walking in the countryside, rural locations or near the edge of town and near sheep or livestock; Be aware of the distress and serious injury a dog can cause sheep. A dog’s natural instinct is to chase; Livestock worrying is a crime and will be dealt with by the Police. Farmers also have a legal right to shoot dogs engaged in livestock worrying.

“If you witness or have any information on a livestock/sheep worrying incident please call Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you prefer to remain anonymous.”

Police divisions across the country have launched a Livestock Worrying Campaign which includes a powerful message on social media.

Several dog owners have commented on the issue, with a posting by Brian Harvey typical of the thoughts of most people.

He said: “Don’t know how these so called dog walkers can control several dogs that are running loose.”

Joanne Tomlin added: “It is not just sheep but ground nesting birds and other wildlife. If your dog wants to ‘play’ get it a Frisbee and throw it in your own garden. Mine has been attacked by ‘would not hurt a soul’ dogs when she was on her lead.”

The Cumnock Chronicle is supporting the Scottish Farmer’s ‘Take a Lead’ campaign. See