Sheep farmers have welcomed new powers for the police to respond more effectively to the most serious incidents of livestock worrying.
The government has published this week an action plan that seeks to 'revolutionise' animal welfare, including a tougher stance on sheep worrying crimes.
It follows new legislation in Scotland that sees dog owners facing fines of up to £40,000 and possible prison sentences for the most serious of offenders.
The National Sheep Association (NSA), which welcomed the government's new action plan, said it hoped the UK would soon be an equal playing field for legislation.
“NSA was pleased to welcome the announcement this week that the police are to be given new powers to respond more effectively to the most serious incidents of sheep worrying," chief executive Phil Stocker said.
"NSA has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and part of this has been efforts to achieve a change in legislation in England and Wales protecting sheep farmers more effectively from dog attacks."
It comes as the group's #LeadOn campaign highlighting the impact of sheep worrying by dogs comes to a close on Friday (14 May).
This year’s campaign attracted interest from a wide range of national broadcasters and press including BBC Breakfast, ITV Good Morning Britain and The Times.
The NSA said it hoped that an increase in awareness and understanding of the country’s dog owners on the seriousness of the problem could finally be achieved.
Mr Stocker said: “Although NSA is pleased with the success of #LeadOn we are under no illusion that our work on this issue is done.
"NSA is committed to ensuring the public develops a better understanding of the stress and suffering that any dog, no matter its breed, can cause to sheep.
"It is a serious animal welfare issue that puts both sheep and much loved pets at risk.”
#LeadOn began at the end of April with the launch of NSA’s survey results that revealed a concerning increase in cases of sheep worrying by dogs over the past year.
More than two thirds of sheep farmers experienced an increase in attacks with each farmer on average experiencing seven separate incidents during the past year.
Farmers completing the survey also reported feelings of anxiety, anger, upset, stress and frustration as a result of sheep worrying by dog attacks.