DOG owners taking their pets for a walk in the countryside are being warned of the can face serious if consequences if they fail to keep their animal under proper control. With Spring lambs adding to the sheep population at this time of the year, there is an increased threat to farmers losing valuable stock to dogs not kept on a lead on farmland. A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: “Livestock are part of farmers’ livelihood and harm to them can be very upsetting and also have financial implications. “Dog owners are reminded to be vigilant when walking their dog(s) near livestock, always make sure it's on a lead and under control. If using an extendable lead make sure you keep it short so the dog is by your side. “A dog doesn't have to kill sheep, or even chase them, for its owner to be committing an offence. Letting a dog roam loose in an area where there are sheep can cause them stress and have health implications for their lambs. "In some circumstances farmers and livestock owners are entitled to shoot dogs that are loose amongst their animals.” Thousands of sheep die every year in the UK from injuries or stress after being attacked or pestered by dogs not properly kept under control. Sheep worrying is a criminal offence and witnesses to incidents should contact police immediately by calling 999.