Dog owners are being asked to take responsibility ahead of the lambing season.

West Mercia Police revealed this week that they have already received several reports of dogs chasing pregnant sheep over the last few days.

And they are reminding dog owners that if their animal worries sheep on agricultural land, the person in charge of the dog is guilty of an offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.

A spokesperson added: "The Act considers sheep worrying to include attacking sheep, chasing them in a way that may cause injury, suffering, abortion or loss of produce or being at large (not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep."

The Countryside Code produced by Natural England also urges down owners to not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control by keeping them on a lead and in sight at all times, staying on right of ways, and to be aware of certain rules such as dogs being banned from certain areas.

They added: "It's always good practice - and a legal requirement on 'Open Access' land - to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and for the welfare of the animals.

"A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog's owner.

However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead - don't risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you."