Dog owners are being warned to keep their pets under control following three reports of sheep being mauled to death by canines near Ashford this week.
At 8.44am on Monday, it was reported 10 sheep in a field near Hornash Lane in Shadoxhurst were found injured, of which six died from their wounds.
The injuries were reported to have been caused during the early hours of the same day.
Furthermore, three sheep were reported to have been killed in a field in Woodchurch Road between 5.30pm on Tuesday and 8am this morning.
A further report of sheep being injured was received this morning in another nearby farm.
It is believed in all three incidents the sheep were attacked by dogs and police have now launched a formal investigation.
Enquiries are ongoing, and patrols are also visiting farms in the area to provide advice and reassurance.
As lambing season approaches, officers are reminding dog owners to keep their pets under control.
Sergeant Jon Monk said: "If you own a dog near a farming area, ensure it cannot escape from your property.
"Take it for walks on a lead rather than let it loose to run around where it can’t be supervised.
"Sheep, especially expectant ewes or those with young lambs, can be very vulnerable and susceptible to harm and chasing by dogs can still cause serious damage to livestock even if they are not caught by the dogs.
"Sheep are valuable assets and farmers face not just upset but also substantial financial losses if their livestock is attacked by dogs."
Under the Animals Act 1971, a person acting to protect livestock may be able to kill or injure a dog that he/she reasonably believes is 'worryin' without incurring any criminal or civil liability.
As a dog owner or a person for the time being in charge of a dog, you could be committing an offence if your pet worries livestock on agricultural land.
Worrying includes attacking or chasing livestock in a way that might reasonably be expected to cause injury, suffering or loss.
It is also an offence to have a dog in a field or enclosed space where there are sheep when the dog is not on a lead or under close control.
Officers are asking anyone with information to call 01843 222289 quoting 05-0231 or the anonymous Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555111.