Apology following death of pet rabbit in York

11 Apr 2013 @ 4.34 pm
| News

Issued by North Yorkshire Police

Police have apologised after a pet rabbit was killed by a police dog which was searching for three suspected thieves in York.

Three men were arrested on suspicion of stealing power tools from a car after an incident in the Bell Farm area of the city on Tuesday evening (9 April 2013).

Officers were alerted at 5.42pm when a householder reported his car window had been smashed on Middleham Avenue.

A group of youths were spotted by the police and they ran off along Bell Farm Avenue where they ran into residential gardens.

A police dog was deployed to help locate the offenders which led to the arrest of two 18-year-old local men. Following questioning, they have been released on conditional police bail pending further enquiries.

A 19-year-old local man was arrested on Wednesday (10 April 2013) morning in connection with the incident.

Sadly, a woman’s pet rabbit died after being grabbed by the police dog as it searched a garden on Bell Farm Avenue.

The rabbit was out of sight in the corner of the garden when the dog handler checked before sending the dog in.

It was still alive when the dog handler commanded the dog to release the animal. It died after being taken to a vets for treatment.

Officers apologised and consoled the woman and her family immediately after the incident.

The head of the force’s Dog Section, Sergeant Simon Whitby, telephoned the family following day to apologise on behalf of North Yorkshire Police.

Sgt Whitby said: “We all feel terrible for the woman and her family and we have apologised profusely for the distress this has caused.

“The poor rabbit was completely out of sight when the dog handler checked the garden during the search for one of the suspects. The police dog simply acted on its natural instincts and grabbed hold of the rabbit.”

The dog handler involved has issued full report regarding the incident which has been reviewed by Sgt Whitby. He is satisfied that this was a lawful and justified deployment of the police dog.

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