BRITISH farms continue to be plagued by irresponsible dog owners who allow their pets to attack livestock.
The latest Farmers Guardian research reveals while attacks on livestock have fallen slightly in the last year, there were still more than 1,000 incidents in 2014.
FG launched its Take the Lead campaign last Easter in response to the growing problem and has been working hard to educate pet owners about the devastating impact loose dogs can have on livestock.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) and British Veterinary Association (BVA), who have been working alongside FG, said the new figures showed the importance of collaboration between the farming community, dog owners and the police.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: "We believe the only way to reduce these figures is through education and the enforcement of regulations. This means encouraging farmers to display signs on footpaths across their land and using the full strength of the law to prosecute owners whose dogs worry sheep."
Reports uncovered from Freedom of Information requests to UK police forces showed there were 1,002 attacks by dogs in 2014 – a small decrease from 1,085 in 2013.
WATCH: Devon farmer Martin Pearse speaking of the dog attack on his pedigree sheep. See how they’re recovering t.co/lTgo8eWxmN— Olivia Midgley (@FGoliviamidgley)
But Mr Stocker said he was concerned farmers were not reporting each incident and the actual figure could be much higher.
"The statistics are not representative of what we are hearing on the ground," he added.
"We think there is a massive under reporting of cases and we would stress to farmers they must report attacks so we can build a picture of what is going on."
FG has already distributed 45,000 warning signs for farmers to put up on their land and has worked with the BVA to produce a guide for dog owners which will be distributed in popular rural locations.
Take the Lead has received an overwhelming response from the farming sector, countryside organisations, MPs, the dog industry and wider public but there is still more work to be done.
Head of policy at the Countryside Alliance, Sarah Lee, added: "We have had a very positive response from publicising this worthwhile campaign. Dog owners have been especially receptive during lambing season and we hope the message is going in.
"There are, however, still too many attacks – our message to dog owners is there is a very simple solution to bring incidences down to zero: take the lead."
Northern Ireland: 126
West Yorkshire: 62