Police in the West Mercia region have once again urged dog walkers to keep their animals on a lead to avoid an increase in lamb attacks.

With most of lambing season underway, West Mercia Police says it has received reports of attacks on lambs by dogs who have been allowed to run free across the region.

One such incident took place in Croeswylan Lane, Oswestry, earlier this month, leading to officers appealing for common sense and responsible dog owners to act.

"There has been a number of Lamb attacks over the last couple of weeks by dogs being off the lead," said a police spokesman.

"Please can you keep your dogs on the lead/under control, while walking through fields with livestock that have a public right of way."

According to the Countryside Code, there are some exceptions to allow your dog off the lead, but a farmer or landowner may also harm your animal if they have in turned harmed their livestock.

It says: "Special dog rules may apply in particular situations, so always look out for local signs – for example:

"Dogs may be banned from certain areas that people use, or there may be restrictions, bye-laws or control orders limiting where they can go.

"The access rights that normally apply to open country and registered common land (known as ‘Open Access’ land) require dogs to be kept on a short lead between March 1 and July 31, to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round near farm animals.

"At the coast, there may also be some local restrictions to require dogs to be kept on a short lead during the bird breeding season, and to prevent disturbance to flocks of resting and feeding birds during other times of year.

"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.

"Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and it can cause infections, so always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly –‘ bag it

and bin it’."