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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
'Romeo' bull trapped by heifers
The bulls ran through city centre streets
Two bulls triggered a major police operation after they dashed to freedom from an abattoir in Stoke-on-Trent.

The pair were spotted running though the streets at 0830 BST on Tuesday after escaping from Longman's abattoir in Hanley.

Although one was caught soon after it broke through the site's fences, it was another two hours before the other was trapped half a mile away outside a photography shop in the Piccadilly area of the city centre.

A barricade of police cars and passing lorries was formed around the shop and a consignment of heifers was brought in to entice the bull.

Firearms unit

Within minutes he was following the heifers back into the abattoir's van, earning him the nickname Romeo.

At the height of the incident, Staffordshire Police's central firearms unit had been called in because it was feared they may have to shoot the runaway bull.

It must have been love, that's all I can say

Inspector Frank Gibbons

Several streets and shops were closed while the police operation was carried out.

Inspector Frank Gibbons, of Staffordshire Police, led a team of officers on a chase to capture Romeo.

He told BBC Radio Stoke: "It caused a lot of disruption to the city centre but the main thing was the safety of everyone concerned.

"We were able to get the bull safely back and nobody was injured. The RSPCA was here working with Longman's and ourselves and they did a terrific job."

However, he said that he was surprised at how quickly Romeo took a shine to the heifers.

"It must have been love, that's all I can say."

Meanwhile Romeo was taken back to Longman's where he was put down as originally intended.

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