FAIRFIELD — The police department is reviewing its procedures after a small dog was euthanized because it was mistaken for a young coyote believed to be in “severe distress,” Police Chief Christopher Lyddy said.

A part-time Animal Control officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation, Lyddy said.

“This is a tragic and heartbreaking situation, and as a dog lover, my heart goes out to this family,” First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said. “I know emotions are high, but I am asking our community to please allow time for the police to investigate the full circumstances of what transpired."

Lyddy said the police department was called to assist Fairfield Animal Control to investigate an animal in “severe distress” in the area of Lawrence Road around 9 p.m. Wednesday.

“The animal, which was found at night during adverse weather conditions, was identified as a young coyote by multiple individuals, including two Fairfield Animal Control officers,” Lyddy said.

“Following wildlife procedures, the responding Fairfield Animal Control officers contacted state resources, who advised the ACOs that there were no rehabilitation facilities equipped to render aid to the animal.”

Lyddy said the animal appeared to be “suffering from prolonged exposure to the elements.” The animal was taken to the local animal shelter where it was euthanized “following the department's procedural standards,” the police chief said.

“Upon subsequent review, it was determined that the animal was a small dog, not a young coyote,” Lyddy said. “The department has met in person with the family and offered its sincere and deepest condolences and apologies for the family's loss.”

Lyddy said the police department, which oversees Fairfield Animal Control, “is currently reviewing its internal procedures to work to prevent such an incident from occurring in the future.”

He said the incident remains under investigation by the Fairfield Police Detective Bureau.