A police dog grabbed and killed a pet rabbit during the search of a garden for suspected thieves.
The dog attacked the rabbit at a property in Bell Farm Avenue, York, where it was being used to help officers hunt down a trio of men.
The pet died as a result of its injuries. North Yorkshire Police have apologised for the incident.
Sgt Simon Whitby, head of the force’s dog section, said officers felt “terrible” for the distress caused.
He 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.”
‘Lawful and justified’
The rabbit was still alive when the dog was ordered to release the animal. It died after being taken to a vet for treatment.
Sgt Whitby added that, after reviewing a report of the incident, he was “satisfied that this was a lawful and justified deployment of the police dog”.
It was sent into the garden at around 17:40 BST on 9 April by police who were searching for three men wanted on suspicion of stealing power tools from a car parked in nearby Middleham Avenue.
Two 18-year-old men, from York, were arrested following the search and later released on conditional police bail pending further enquiries.
News published on: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-22112228