DOG owners could face prosecution if their pets are out of control when around livestock.

Owners have been advised to keep full control of their pets when out and about in the countryside in risk of facing prosecution.

The message comes from Hampshire Constabulary's Country Watch team as it tries to educate dog owners about the risk of attacks on livestock.

The worrying of livestock by dogs is a criminal offence contrary to the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.

Police Staff Investigator Melody Manning said: "The worrying of livestock by dogs is a criminal offence.

"We would like to remind dog owners of the importance of being in full control when in the countryside and around livestock and wild animals.

"If an animal is injured or dies as a result of a dog attack, the animal’s owner has the right to seek compensation.

"This can be from the dog owner or the person in control of it when the attack occurred.

"This can include the cost of the animal, vet bills and the cost of removing and destroying it.

"Owners often voice surprise when their dog chases an animal, but this is an innate part of a dog’s behaviour.

"In the event of livestock being seriously injured or killed, the owner or person in control of the dog can be prosecuted.

"The dog can also be shot by the farmer to end an attack."

The constabulary's advice to dog owners is to keep dogs on leads when in an area with livestock and ensure your dog does not stray off the path or area where you have right of access.

If there is no livestock visible, keep the dog in sight at all times, be aware of what it is doing, and be confident it will return to you promptly on command.