Police have issued a warning to pet owners following incidents where sheep were killed after being attacked by dogs.

Hertfordshire Constabulary says there have been several attacks on livestock this year on Box Moor Trust lands in Hemel Hempstead.

The most recent occurred on Saturday, September 26, when a sheep was found mauled to death on Further Roughdown, between the A41 and the railway line.

In another incident over the summer, a dog chased sheep on trust land and caused bite injuries to three of the animals.

One was so badly injured that it had to be put to sleep, police said.

Police also said that in another incident a dog was seriously injured while harassing cattle on the Moor.

The county’s police force is now urging dog owners to keep their pets under control when around livestock.

Sergeant Karen Mellor said: “Box Moor Trust land is a beautiful place to walk with a dog but it is vital that owners keep their pets on a lead when walking anywhere near livestock.

“Even if you think you have good control of your dog please still put a lead on them as many owners who have felt confident in their recall skills have been caught out, leaving both the owner of the dog and livestock shocked, upset and potentially out of pocket.

“Sheep worrying is a crime and those that allow their dogs to chase livestock will be dealt with robustly. No-one wants their dog walk to end with their pet causing harm or even fatally injuring a sheep. Putting your dog on a lead, even if you’re in a separate field to the livestock but walking nearby, is the best way to eliminate the risk of something going terribly wrong.”

Box Moor Trust Trustee Peter Ablett, who is chair of the Trust’s Land and Estates Committee, says it is “outrageous” that dog owners are “refusing to put their pets on leads around livestock”.

“It’s very distressing to discover that yet another animal has suffered a painful and horrible death that could have been so easily avoided by a dog owner doing the right thing and putting their pet on a lead,” he said.

“This latest attack was reported by a member of the public who made the grim discovery on Saturday morning. We have not yet heard from the owner of the dog responsible.

“If you walk your dog where livestock may be roaming please put your pet on a lead!”