AN animal rights group has reacted to a video which saw a police car driving into a runaway cow yesterday.

The graphic video appears to show a runaway cow walking on the pavement before being mowed down by a police car in Woodley.

Reacting to the video, PETA Director Elisa Allen, said: "Law-enforcement officers are entrusted with protecting the innocent and vulnerable, and they’re not above the law if they wilfully cause suffering.

READ MORE: Shocking footage of police car hitting runaway cow

"A properly trained police officer would call for assistance if he or she could not humanely round up a frightened cow, and to do otherwise is to use undue force, which is prohibited for good reason.

"PETA urges anyone upset by the pain caused to this sensitive cow, who merely wanted her freedom, to call for disciplinary action and criminal charges, if warranted, and to do something in their own lives today to help animals."

Thames Valley police said it was called shortly after 7.30pm to help contain the escaped cow. The force said it used the vehicle to stop the cow as a last resort, after all other attempts including tranquilisation was unsuccessful.

Officers said the decision was not taken lightly but was 'necessary' to avoid further danger to the public. The cow had reportedly injured one officer who was taken to hospital and 'charged' at the public.

A spokesperson said: "We understand that there are some distressing videos circulating on social media relating to this incident, however we would like to reassure people that these measures were necessary and were only taken due to the need to protect the public, and were carried out in a way to minimise suffering to the animal."

Read the force's full statement here.