POLICE Commissioner Winston Roddick and animal charities have called for an immediate investigation after officers deliberately ran over a dog running loose on the A55.
The foxhound was running in and out of traffic between the Llanfairfechan roundabout and the Conwy tunnel in the early hours - about 3am - on Monday, February 22.
Officers from the Roads Policing Unit attended the scene and attempts were made to try and catch the dog. After officers were unable to bring the animal under control, a decision was made to run the dog over at “sufficient speed” - an action described as the “only safe option”.
Chief Inspector Darren Wareing, of the roads policing unit, said that both officers involved have dogs themselves and the decision was not made “lightly”.
He said: "The potential for a serious collision was present throughout, and in the circumstances there was no alternative way that officers could contain the dog and minimise risks to motorists. The only safe option was to run the dog over at sufficient speed to ensure that it was destroyed and would not suffer."
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick added: "I will be raising the matter with the force and asking questions because it is important to ensure the matter is looked into fully.
"These were highly unusual circumstances and it was a difficult judgement to make.”
A spokesman for RSPCA Cymru said it would contact North Wales Police over the “particularly tragic incident.”
Carol Roberts, manager of the Abandoned Animal Association, labelled the action taken “an absolute disgrace.”
She said: “I want to see a full investigation happen - this needs to start immediately. Police could have closed off the road, they could have darted the dog.
"I don’t think there would have been a lot of traffic on the road at 3am - it should have been better thought out. I can understand why a lot of people are upset.”
Nicky Owens, of North Clwyd Animal Rescue, added: "This seems like a very extreme action to take. It seems unlikely that at 3am nothing else could have been done.
"We have heard stories from around the world where animals have been herded with motorbikes or traffic has been stopped. It's heartbreaking and we feel this needs investigating further."
Judi Hewitt, North Wales Animal Right’s campaigner, also expressed her shock.
“Surely tazering the animal could have stopped it running amok? It was after all 3am not 3pm. The animal was clearly terrified,” she said.
"If that poor dog had been a human being out of control the police would have found another way of preventing a potential tragedy.
"I believe the police officers couldn't be bothered to save that poor hound so they took the easy option. I'm disgusted and sickened."
Chief Inspector Wareing explained that at one point - during the situation - an officer tried to take hold of the dog but was bitten.
“Fast roads such as the A55 present inherent risks, and to have vehicles including a HGV having to swerve in the dark was deemed unacceptable as the officers witnessed a number of near misses, and were highly concerned about the potential aftermath of a high speed collision."
A statement about the incident posted on the North Wales Police Facebook page has attracted more than 10,000 comments.