A Republican mayoral candidate in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, seemingly fell for a satirical hoax article that claimed local law enforcement would begin utilizing drug-sniffing bunnies, according to reports. Dave Gautreau, the Republican contender, declared his stance on the erroneous report when asked about drugs during a Phoenixville mayoral forum Thursday.

Gautreau issued a statement about his false claims Friday.

"Last evening at the mayoral forum, I mentioned that Lancaster was using drug rabbits as lower cost alternatives to K-9's. Some of my friends and family thought I was kidding," Gautreau wrote in a post on his since-removed Facebook page Friday, according to Philly.com. "A friend of mine told me they had used them and when I called them, they told me they had with success."

Gautreau added, "I take this mayoral run serious and I am looking for creative ways to help fight the war on drugs. I had assumed I did my due diligence. It supposedly is fake news. It was not my intent to make a joke on a very serious situation." 

LCPD's Lt. Bill Hickey claimed in an interview with Philly.com on Monday that officers "do not use any type of rabbits in our law enforcement activities, nor do we have plans to." 

The fake news article was published by the People of Lancaster. The digital publication asserts on its website that it is devoted to sharing "a mix of news, opinion, and satire about the people, places and interests" in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The website also wrote that "much of the content" is meant to be satirical as it includes a "heavy layer of snark and sarcasm."

The article, titled "Lancaster City Police Buy Four Drug Sniffing Rabbits," claimed that the Lancaster City Police Department (LCPD) had received approval to purchase four drug-sniffing rabbits to aid in busting violators of drug-related offenses. The drug-sniffing rabbits were said to be imported from Australia, which the publication jokingly reported have been a practice in the region for years. 

The article was also loaded with fake quotes from the LCPD's Chief of Police Keith Sadler and Rick Gray, Lancaster's current mayor. 

Drug use in Phoenixville is a major part of Gautreau's mayoral campaign. Gautreau, if elected, aims to cultivate a drug response team to combat the usage of opioids and heroin that have been the apparent cause of deaths for several residents in Phoenixville. 

"Dave will create a committee comprised of faith leaders, civic leaders, police/fire department, and borough council members to establish a plan to help those affected by this horrible disease," Gautreau's campaign website reads. "Finding a solution to the crisis and being there for these individuals and their loved ones is his most important goal as Mayor."

Gautreau, whose campaign mascot is a goat, also wants to educate school-aged students of the dangers of drug use. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program would be heavily enforced in schools under his leadership.