HAMPSHIRE Police have issued a stark warning to dog owners after a dog attacked a sheep in Alresford. 

Police officers from Hampshire Constabulary’s Country Watch team are asking dog walkers to "keep dogs on leads in rural areas or face possible prosecution".

This follows a number of incidents in the East Hampshire area, in particular the South Downs, whereby owners have been walking with dogs off lead and not under close control. 

They have subsequently chased or attacked livestock and wild animals. 

Police received reports of an animal worrying livestock on February 18 at around 5.15pm.

Officers were deployed to West Tisted Manor Estate, Soames Lane, near Ropley, where a dog walker had lost control of one of her pets.

The dog was caught, but not before it had attacked a sheep.

A 61-year-old woman from London took full responsibility and a Community Resolution order was issued with a £500 fine, payable to the victim by means of compensation.

She was also ordered to sign a Dog Behaviour Contract, meaning she must keep her dog on a lead at all times when in a public place.

Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 it is a criminal offence for a dog to actively worry livestock and police want to make sure owners are aware that in such instances, the owner/person in control of the dog can be prosecuted, and the dog can be shot by the farmer to end an attack.

The Country Watch team will be increasing their proactive patrols of hot-spot areas as the weather begins to improve and the Health Protection Regulations begin to ease. 

This will includes areas such as the South Downs which have begun to see an increase footfall in recent weeks, and is likely to continue as we move into Spring and Summer months.  

In addition to increased routine patrols in rural and countryside areas across Hampshire, officers will also be seeking to utilise the use of Force drones in areas where incidents have been occurring previously. 

Keep your dog on a lead or close control at all times, not just when in a field with livestock.

If there is no livestock in the field, keep the dog in sight at all times, be aware of what it is doing, and be confident it will return to you promptly on command. If you cannot be confident of this, the dog should not be off the lead.

Ensure the dog does not stray off the path or area where you have right of access.