A VET says several attempts were made to corral and capture two stray horses before police eventually shot them dead.

James Christie’s comments came following fierce criticism of North Yorkshire Police over the incident at Dunnington on Sunday.

Several residents claimed yesterday it took a police marksman 19 shots to kill one of the animals, and said it should instead have been captured or tranquilised.

Mr Christie said he was the veterinary surgeon on duty for the Minster Equine Veterinary Clinic on Sunday when he was contacted by police and asked to advise and assist as necessary.

He said police told him three horses had escaped from a field and had been running around the Dunnington area and repeatedly crossing the A1079. “Several attempts had been made to manually round up and capture the horses but had been unsuccessful,” he said, adding a tame horse had also been unsuccessfully used to encourage the wild horses into an enclosed area.

He said he was unable to approach the horses due to their apparent fear of people, and the closest he was able to get was approximately 100 metres away. “Various options were discussed, including the use of tranquiliser darts, and several further attempts were made to corral the horses into a safe enclosed area. Despite these measures it proved impossible to control the horses, which repeatedly bolted across the A1079.”

He left the scene after police told him it had been decided to shoot the horses, but advised officers he would be available on his mobile phone and able to attend should further assistance prove necessary.