DOG OWNERS in Audlem have been warned to not to let their dog 'pay the price' for their actions after a number of livestock worrying incidents near the village.

Over the last few months, Cheshire Police Rural Crime Team have put out many posts on social media about dogs worrying and killing livestock.

Following further instances of livestock worrying, Sergeant Rob Simpson form the Rural Crime Team and PCSO Nick Jarvis addressed dog walkers, warning them of repercussions of letting dogs off the lead near sheep and cattle.

"The team have prosecuted people for these offences and tried to get people to understand the dangers of not having your dog under proper control," said Sgt Simpson. "Everyone they have ever interviewed has always said, 'my dog has never done this before'.

"So we ask, please don't let the dog pay the price for your actions.

"Farmers have a legal defence to shoot dogs that are worrying their livestock.

"The term, worrying livestock, does the severity of the offence no favours. Essentially no harm or death has to occur to any of the livestock, as your dog simply chasing them is enough.

"Anytime a dog is left unattended is simply not acceptable and it is so important that you make every effort to prevent this.

"No farmer likes the prospect of shooting a dog let alone actually doing it.

"Many are dog owners themselves, but it's written into law that they can protect their livestock, with the legal defence they have available to them.

"Let's be very clear on this, there is only one person who can prevent this kind of incident from happening, the dog's owner – no ifs, no buts."

Sgt Simpson says that those who let their dog worry livestock can be prosecuted, even if their dog has been shot by a farmer.

"Did you know that worrying incidents cost £1.2 million to the farming industry last year," added Sgt Simpson.

"We know dog owners love their animals, but last year alone an estimated 18,500 livestock were killed or seriously injured by dogs.

"All this caused by people not being a responsible dog owner.

"It's important to remember, you can still be prosecuted, even if your dog has been shot. You are still responsible for your dog's actions and liable for the costs.

"In previous cases, we have had people banned from being able to take their dog or any future dog of theirs onto any farmers' fields. Their dog has to be muzzled at all times when out and about.

"So now is the time to take being a dog owner and all the responsibilities that come with it seriously. If you are using a public footpath to cross private farmland, you have the right to pass and repass on that route.

"Not to meander off it, and your dog should be under control and taking the same route as you.

"The rights of way are the only publicly accessible bits on private land.

"Dogs do run off on occasion, but you should be able to immediately recall your dog.

"You need not worry however, as if you are with your dog and you have it under proper control as the law states you should, there is no risk to the livestock or your dog."