A survey conducted by the National Sheep Association found that 40 per cent of dog attacks on sheep are carried out by straying or unaccompanied dogs.

The survey taken part in by sheep farmers from across the UK shows no let-up in this ongoing crime which continues to plight sheep welfare, businesses and livelihoods.

Over 70 per cent of respondents said dog owners assuming their pet won’t do any damage to livestock was behind most attacks, while 62 per cent said a lack of concern from pet owners led to attacks taking place.

Nearly half said attacks they had witnessed were carried out by stray or unaccompanied dogs, with 26 per cent saying they’re most commonly alerted to an attack by individuals who are not directly involved.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “Domestic dogs attacking sheep is sadly an ongoing crime without an easy solution, but to keep talking about it and gathering evidence at every opportunity goes a long way in continuing to highlight the problem.

"It is vital for dog owners to realise that any dog, no matter how well trained, is capable of attacking livestock and the effects stretch far further than the initial and obvious injuries.”

Many highlighted death and injury as the most common impact of a dog attack, but 45 per cent said dog attacks were causing a loss of production, most commonly abortion in ewes.

Some 43 per cent reported that sheep had to be put down in the months after an attack, while 39 per cent said sheep had experienced an injury from fleeing out of control dogs and 38 per cent experienced a loss of production in lambs due to mis-mothering at a young age.

Police figures continue to highlight a rise in the number of reported dog attacks on sheep, but NSA believes the true extent of the problem is much higher.

Just 40 per cent of survey respondents said they report every incident to the police, of which just 18 per cent and 17 per cent were given a crime reference number or crime incident number as a result.

Mr Stocker concludes: “If we’re to build up an accurate picture of the true scale of the problem, it is vital that those who’ve experienced an attack on their livestock report it to the police and ask for a crime or incident number.

"We have to continue to put pressure on police forces to deal with this crime in a serious and consistent way and if they haven’t the resources to do that then we need to help them build evidence that they are not keeping up with reported crimes.

"I am afraid that we are hearing of police forces that are making the right noises but still not responding effectively.”

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Further details on the survey results and dog worrying can be found at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/dog-owners