Council officials have threatened a couple with legal action after they mistook their pet rabbit for a loud and aggressive dog.
Martin and Yvonne Vickers received a message from East Lindsey District Council stating that the noise of their unruly pet was causing trouble, and even threatening the safety of horse riders because of the ‘excessive barking’ near to their countryside home.
The only thing is that they haven’t got a dog, they’ve only got a seven-year-old white lop-eared rabbit called Joey that they got from a neighbour who couldn’t keep him anymore.
Joey doesn’t even go outside because he might get eaten by some other creature.
Not exactly the cause of an anti-social behaviour order.
Still, that’s what they were threatened with when they received the letter.
In the letter, Environmental Protection Officer Sue Pailing said: “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 live together with Joey in a bungalow in the village of Friskney, Lincolnshire.
They’ve no idea what gave the council the impression they had a dog.
Martin 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.”
When the letter arrived last Thursday, they moved quickly to clear their name.
Yvonne added: “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.”
For her part, Pailing 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 shared a post about the misunderstanding in a local Facebook group, where others have been able to have a giggle too.
“Nasty-looking dog you got there,” said one.
“You’ve clearly got a barking rabbit that’s causing a nuisance.”
As for the real culprit, Martin said: “Most of our neighbours around here seem to have dogs, so I think it is a case of mistaken identity.”