Dog owners across the Melton borough are being urged to keep their animals either under strict control or on leads while on walks in the countryside as the lambing season gets underway.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents farmers and landowners in the region, has issued the plea, stressing that during the lambing season pregnant ewes can abort if they get stressed by loose dogs.
Sheep fleeing from dogs are also often killed or seriously injured by their panicked attempts to escape, causing damage to fences and field boundaries in the process.
A CLA spokesman said: “Most people are very understanding and do now walk with their dogs on leads - but there are always some people who just will not engage, walking with dogs off leads and away from them without any control over them, disturbing the wildlife and farm animals.
“The CLA’s members go out of their way to welcome walkers who adhere to the Countryside Code. Most people are very understanding and walk with their dogs on leads near livestock – but there are some who don’t even consider doing this.
“Dogs should always be under close control when walked on farmland, and unless the dog stays closely to heel, this normally means it should be on a lead. A lead should always be used when in the vicinity of livestock, however well trained your dog is. It’s a criminal offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 if they chase or attack livestock.
“Dog owners should also respect land and property at all times. They should not allow their dog to trespass off a footpath or bridleway, and should also clean up and remove dog mess.”