D&S column: looking after our 'best friends'

EASTER week got off to a lovely start in the company of lots of very cute rabbits at Richmond Town Hall.

The Bunny Burrows small animal charity had kindly invited me to open its Hot Cross Bunny event last Sunday morning and it was great to meet the charity’s founder and mainstay, Gwen Butler, and her many volunteer helpers.

My young daughters particularly enjoyed meeting some of Bunny Burrow’s “residents” who had been brought to the town hall to help explain the work of the charity.

Bunny Burrows was established in 1996 when Mrs Butler and her late husband John adopted their first rabbit. She has since cared for and re-homed hundreds of rabbits and guinea pigs at her home in Richmond.

The charity takes in many unwanted and injured animals. It also aims to educate people in the appropriate care and treatment of rabbits and guinea pigs. Animals in its care are only put down as a last resort.

Gwen and her team of helpers raise all the money needed to meet the centre’s costs which are substantial – more than £1,200 a month for feed and bedding and a similar monthly sum for veterinary fees. Hence the need for fundraising events like Hot Cross Bunny Day and donations.

I was most impressed by the charity’s work and it underlines for me how many people in this area are committed to animal welfare, a cause I do all I can to support.

Most recently, I was pleased to give my backing to Dog Theft Awareness Day held in Parliament which highlighted the need to do more to crackdown on the growing problem of stolen dogs through tightening sentencing guidelines for those found guilty of this crime, and also to make it easier to prevent the crime through more systematic checking of dog microchips.

Also, at last month’s Farming Q&A session at Leyburn, I was delighted to hear George Eustice, the Farming Minister, speak of his unwavering commitment to maintaining and enhancing Britain’s farm animal welfare standards when we leave the EU and start making our own trade arrangements with the rest of the world.

I am adamant that new agricultural deals should not open the UK market to food produced to lower welfare standards which paradoxically it is at moment thanks to the EU’s dilatory approach to enforcing its own rules. The best example of this is the rearing of pigs in cramped sow stalls. The ban was promptly introduced and enforced in the UK but the cruel practice is still commonplace in some parts of Europe.


On Saturday, it was great to attend Bedale Point to Point (pictured) at Hornby Castle with family and friends in glorious sunshine. Previous trips to this event have been plagued by the sort of weather which is perhaps more typical of a Yorkshire spring!

It was the 70th anniversary event, featured some exciting races and, as ever, was an opportunity to catch up with friends from across North Yorkshire.