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Last Updated: Tuesday July 13 2010 11:20 GMT

Protester steals pet rabbit

Barney the rabbit - before he was stolen

A brother and sister were left heartbroken after finding their pet rabbit had been stolen and released by an animal rights protester.

Kiera, 13, and Harry, 10, woke up on Friday to find nine-year-old Barney missing from his garden hutch at their home in Lancashire.

In his place was a note saying it was cruel to keep rabbits in hutches and that they should be out in the wild.

Barney had been part of the family since Kiera was in reception class.

Harry and Kiera with the hutch where Barney used to live
Harry and Kiera with the hutch where Barney used to live

Her dad, Oliver, said both Kiera and Harry were "absolutely horrified" by what had happened.

"They love the rabbit and play with him every day," he said. "He is taken to the vets regularly and gets the best possible treatment.

"We are heartbroken to be accused of animal cruelty to a pet rabbit we love dearly."