DOG owners are being warned not to let their pets off the lead near livestock after 15 sheep were killed last week.

Officers from Hampshire Police’s country watch team stress that all dogs must be kept under control on farmland to prevent attacks on livestock.

Six ewes and nine lambs were killed and at least another 20 sheep were injured in Friday’s attack at Upper Farringdon, near Alton. A brown or brindle coloured boxer or mastiff was involved.

PC Michael Ames, from the force’s countrywatch team said: “This incident should act as a stark reminder as to why there is legislation in place outlining that dog owners must keep their animal under close control.

“Even the most well- behaved dog can revert to instinct when near livestock potentially causing distress, injury and loss of life.”

PC Ames warned that dog owners, or the person responsible for the dog at the time, could be charged under the Dogs Act 1953 and may be sued for compensation by the farmer.

“Landowners have the right, as a last resort, to shoot any dog worrying their livestock – so these owners are also putting their beloved pet at unnecessary risk,” he added.