Police are appealing for members of the public to provide information following reports of a number of attacks by lurcher-type dogs.
Officers have been making inquiries following reports of incidents in the Peterlee and Horden areas.
It is believed that a number of gangs made up of young men with two or three dogs with them have been wandering the streets of the two areas, searching mainly for cats.
Police say that despite rumours of a large number of incidents in which dogs have attacked other animals, only a small number have been reported directly to police in the last six months.
Based on these reports, officers have said they will be carrying out a number of visits to individuals linked with the incidents, in partnership with the RSPCA and Durham County Council dog wardens.
T/Inspector Sara Baxter, of Peterlee Neighbourhood Police Team, said: “We’re aware there may be discussion on social media and in the press suggesting a large number of these attacks, but at present we have only been made aware of a small quantity.
“We rely on contact with the public to assist us with our inquiries, and urge anyone with information to get in touch with us as soon as possible.
“The described attacks are unacceptable, and we want to make it clear that neither the police nor the community will allow this sort of behaviour to take place in our area.”
Councillors in the area meanwhile are calling on residents to keep their pets safe.
Councillor Andrew Watson, spokesman for The North East Party on Peterlee Town Council said: “If residents are suspicious of youths with dogs in their neighbourhood, they should note as much detail as possible regarding their descriptions and the number/colour of the dogs they have with them before ringing 101.
"This can be done anonymously and will enable the police to record their whereabouts in the event any further attacks are reported in the vicinity."
Those with any information regarding dog attacks in the Peterlee and Horden areas, please contact Peterlee Neighbourhood Police Team on 101, or report anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.