VETS are asking people to keep their dogs on leads when walking near sheep as the annual lambing season gets underway.

Ewes are especially vulnerable at this time of year, as they prepare to give birth, and vets have seen a rise in the numbers of attacks, which may lead to lambs dying and sheep being killed and injured.

British Veterinary Association president and vet, Robin Hargreaves, said: “Even dogs who are usually calm and good natured can become very excitable and difficult to control when faced with livestock. Tragically this can lead to chasing, attacks and fatalities for sheep and other animals.

“Over the coming months ewes in the field are likely to be heavily pregnant or to have recently given birth. Chasing and worrying can have severe consequences at this time.

“Later in the season the arrival of lambs brings fresh temptation as their energy and activity can be irresistible to dogs. We ask that owners in rural areas keep their dogs on leads when walking near livestock. They should also consider taking alternative routes during the lambing season to avoid causing distress.”

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