NURSERY youngsters were all smiles when a kind-hearted resident handed over a new rabbit after reading how their previous pet had been brutally killed by yobs.
The children and staff from Cherry Tree Nursery, which is attached to Manor Resident’s Association, in Kilmarnock Road, Hartlepool, were left devastated when sick yobs stole their pet rabbit Sooty before torturing it and leaving it hanging from a tree.
But after the story appeared in the Mail, one reader whose son was allergic to their lion-headed rabbit, decided to donate the animal to the children at the nursery.
The youngsters were given Flump, whose name they changed to Jessie, on Thursday, and it has settled in just fine.
But nursery manager Janet Cain said the rabbit will not be kept in the shed and will be brought inside the nursery each night, and taken home by a staff member each weekend for fear of a similar incident happening again.
Janet said: “The children were over the moon when they got it, they were really, really pleased.
“We still haven’t told them what happened to Sooty and we don’t plan on doing so. We have said that he was stolen by some naughty boys but it would be too distressing for them if they knew what really happened.”
She added: “We’re taking no chances with Jessie either. She is an indoor rabbit and we’re going to take her home every weekend.
“We’ve also had the shed all alarmed as well so that hopefully nothing like this ever happens again.”
The children can also look forward to getting a second rabbit as a companion for Jessie from an animal farm in Darlington.
They have been invited to visit on May 30 and will return with a second pet.
Janet said: “The children have all got smiles on their faces now but Sooty is still in our thoughts and we’ve still got his photos.”
The cruel thugs broke into the shed some time overnight on Monday and stole Sooty from his hutch inside it, before torturing and killing him.
They also damaged the door and stole a red push-along bike.
Anyone with information about the shocking crime is asked to contact PC Anthony Wallace on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.