A WARNING has gone out to dog owners after two sheep have been killed in York.

North Yorkshire Police is warning dog owners to keep their animals on a lead near livestock, or face prosecution.

The police's rural task force is seeing increased reports of sheep worrying across the county resulting in the death or serious injury of livestock.

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A police spokesman said: "Last week a farm in Wigginton near York reported the killing of two pregnant ewes and another three pregnant ewes the week before. All of these sheep were in the same field that has a public footpath along the edge.

"It is still unknown if the stress of being chased may have also resulted in the remaining 300 ewes terminating their pregnancies which are due in early April.

"The distressing image in this article is of one of the sheep, the other images are too graphic to publish.

"Not only does sheep worrying inflict suffering and distress on the animals, the impact of these attacks has a devastating effect for the farming community, both financially and mentally.

"If the person responsible for the Wigginton attacks wishes to come forward to resolve their wrongdoing, they can contact jack.donaldson@northyorkshire.police.uk.

"Alternatively we anyone with any information can report anonymously to Crimestoppers 0800 555 111."

PC Jack Donaldson said: “Farmers work day and night around lambing season to protect their livestock, to ensure their lambs are born fit and healthy and to keep them safe from predators. It is a constant worry for farmers when unrestrained dogs have the capability to kill and wound large numbers of animals in a single attack.

“Nobody wants to see animals suffer in this way, and there should be no excuses for not having your dog under proper control. We urge dog owners to act responsibly when walking in the countryside. Keep your dog on a lead at all times. Do not let your dog trespass onto private land. If you wish to let your dog off the lead, you must seek landowner’s permission first and check that there are no livestock in the area.

“There are numerous dog parks in the countryside where owners can exercise their dogs without the risk of losing control of your pooch.”

Sheep worrying is a criminal offence and offence does not require livestock to be injured, simply allowing a dog to be out of control around livestock, is an offence.

North Yorkshire Police say they will investigate and take action against owners who do not keep their dogs under control around livestock.

Police say not only will owners face prosecution if their dog is out of control, but they also run the risk of their pets being shot. As a last resort, if a farmer believes a dog is an immediate danger to their livestock and there are no other reasonable means to protect their animals, your pet could end up being shot by a farmer.