Move aside Turner & Hooch, it’s rabbit season. While it may sound like a storyline out of a Looney Tunes episode, a rescued rabbit has joined a police force in California, becoming an unofficial officer. Meet Percy: a ginger and white-colored bunny who might just be the cutest cop you’ll ever see — he even has his own blue vest emblazoned with “Police K9” across the side.
Having a bunny as a police officer makes for an adorable story, but Percy actually plays a vital role at the Yuba City Police Department: The rabbit serves as “wellness officer” for the law enforcement agency’s wellness program. According to a Facebook post from the department, the program “promotes the importance of prioritizing mental and physical health, providing tools and resources to reduce stress and create a positive foundation for well-being.” The post goes on to explain that Percy is there to offer support to anyone who needs it.
Being a police officer can be taxing work. According to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, stress from the job can cause poor sleep and burnout, and in some cases may lead to more serious mental health concerns, such as post traumatic stress disorder. In fact, a 2020 study published in the National Library of Medicine found 26% of the 434 police officers surveyed reported current symptoms of mental illness.
According to the National Institutes of Health, interacting with animals can help boost both mental and physical health. Research has shown it to lower levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol and decrease blood pressure, while other studies showed that time with pets can reduce loneliness and increase feelings of social support.
Percy joined the Yuba City Police Department after Officer Ashley Carson found the bunny while on patrol on October 21, 2022. The little rabbit was wandering in the middle of the road on Percy Avenue, which would become his namesake. Carson decided to rescue the creature, fearing for his safety, and she quickly realized how calm and sociable the bunny was.
When no one stepped forward to claim Percy from animal control, the department’s police services analyst chose to adopt him, making him the newest officer to join the force. “Most enjoy his company, while some are still getting used to the idea of a rabbit being inside a police department,” the department added in the Facebook post.
Incredibly, Percy isn’t the first bunny to become a California police officer. In 2017, a white rabbit named Speedy also joined a police force as a therapy animal. And law enforcement agencies have used dogs for emotional support as well, like the Saint Bernard lovingly dubbed Officer Donut, who was sworn in as a comfort animal in Greenfield, Massachusetts. The strangest animal to join a police force, though, may be this drug-sniffing lizard in Arizona.