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POLICE APOLOGISE FOR USING PUPPY IN ADVERT; Muslims complain over 'unclean' Rebel.

Byline: By James Moncur

RED-FACED police have apologised for using a pup in an advertising campaign - because it offended Muslims.

They have admitted an "oversight" after complaints from Islamic residents who consider dogs "ritually unclean".

Six-month-old trainee police dog Rebel is at the centre of the row.

The German Shepherd was pictured next to a police hat and telephone on a card highlighting the Tayside force's new non-emergency contact number.

Thousands were sent out to addresses in the Dundee area.

But Muslims were angry and their local councillor raised their concerns.

Now police chiefs are investigating the failure to spot the potential for controversy over using little Rebel - named after a contest among primary schoolchildren.

A spokesman for Tayside Police said: "Rebel has proved extremely popular with children and adults since being introduced to the public, aged six weeks, as our newest canine recruit.

"His incredible popularity - on one day, he attracted over 20,000 hits on our website - led us to believe Rebel could play a starring role in the promotion of our non-emergency number.

"We did not seek advice from the force's diversity adviser prior to publishing and distributing the postcards. That was an oversight and we apologise for any offence caused."

Councillor Mohammed Asif brought the matter to the attention of Chief Constable John Vine.

Asif said yesterday: "My concern was that it's not welcomed by all communities, with the dog on the cards. It was probably a waste of resources going to these communities.

"The police should have understood.

Since then, they have explained that it was an oversight on their part and that if they'd seen it was going to cause upset, they wouldn't have done it."

Asif, a member of the Tayside Joint Police Board, added: "If people come to me with complaints and issues about the police, I have to raise them.

"A number of locals said it was not right to use the dog and asked if I could do something.

"I'm satisfied the matter is being investigated and a solution will be found."

Rebel has proved a popular recruit after coming through the first Lothian and Borders Police dog-breeding programme.

He was named after visiting St Ninian's Primary School in Dundee and many have been following his exploits through an online training diary.

He was named after visiting St Ninian's Primary School in Dundee and many have been following his exploits through an online training diary.

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ROW: The poster featuring trainee police dog Rebel
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 2, 2008
Words:415
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