Barking council chiefs threatened a couple with legal action after mistaking their pet rabbit for an aggressive dog. Martin and Yvonne Vickers were stunned when they received a letter from East Lindsey District Council complaining about their unruly pet.
Officials even said horse riders’ lives were being put at risk due to “excessive barking” coming from their rural home. The couple – who only own a rescue rabbit called Joey – were told they could be slapped with an anti-social behaviour order if they failed to control their pet.
Environmental Protection Officer Sue Pailing wrote: “I am writing to advise you that I have received a complaint regarding the behaviour of your dog. I understand your dog barks quite excessively whilst in the garden, especially when horse riders go by your fence. This is obviously a concern as this could cause a horse to bolt and possibly throw its rider.”
Martin and Yvonne took in seven-year-old Joey after a previous neighbour was unable to care for him anymore. The white mini lop now lives indoors at the couple’s bungalow in Friskney village in Lincolnshire.
Shop worker Martin, 57, said: “I’m not sure how they have mistaken Joey for a dog. The only noise Joey makes is scratching when he wants to come out of his enclosure to have a run around indoors. He doesn’t go outside as he could be got by a fox.”
After receiving the warning letter last Thursday, the couple rang the council up to explain the mix-up.
Yvonne, 50, said: “I said we have only got a white rabbit – and he’s not aggressive at all. Martin then spoke to Sue Paling at the council and she was very nice about it – in fact we had a good laugh.”
Mrs Paling said: “Mr Vickers and I did have quite a chuckle about the mix up and he was very understanding about it. I didn’t want to rabbit on about the complaint and no further barks have come from the rabbit in question since.”
Martin has since put a post about the amusing mix-up to the Facebook group ‘Friskney Community’ with a photo of Joey – where some members have jokingly asked ‘who framed Joey rabbit?’
One commented: “Nasty-looking dog you got there’ – while another joked: “You’ve clearly got a barking rabbit that’s causing a nuisance.” Martin added: “Most of our neighbours around here seem to have dogs, so I think it is a case of mistaken identity.”
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