Jan 272017
 

By Duncan Harley.

When a concerned Alford resident reported sighting two abandoned otter pups, Keith and Pauline Marley of Ellon based North East Wildlife & Animal Rescue Centre immediately agreed to take the orphaned mammals under their wing.

Weighing in at just 1kg upon arrival, the first task was to provide food.

Fully grown adult otters weigh around 10kg.

“Juveniles need to eat fifteen percent of their bodyweight daily in order to thrive” says Keith.

“Luckily, a local fish-merchant donated four boxes of cod to us when the cubs arrived. They have a voracious appetite though. In the first two weeks they ate over half of the donation.

“We have already identified a release site” 

Keith estimates that the siblings could be released back into the wild by July 2017.

Prior to release the youngsters will need to learn how to swim and how to hunt for food.

“We plan to use cat toys on strings to teach aquatic hunting skills. It’s likely to be quite a messy procedure” jokes Keith.

The search is on for funding to create a dedicated enclosure and outdoor pond for the pair.

The registered charity welcomes both volunteers and donations. Contact: www.thenewarc.org

Words © Duncan Harley. Image © New Arc

First published in the December 2016 edition of Leopard Magazine.

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Nov 222016
 

Suzanne Kelly reports the latest claims from controversial commercial farm-cum-rescue for farm animals – an alleged break in, vandalism and deliberate ‘poisoning’ of a young Shetland pony.

open-day-july-15-sign-says-all-farm-animals-and-shows-animals-northfield-actually-slaughterAs has been demonstrated in previous AV articles, Northfield Animal Haven owner, Kelly Cable has engaged in some bizarre fundraising schemes, and animals have been injured, frozen to death and overfed to death at the New Pitsligo premises.
On the afternoon of 15 November 2015, a woman named Jackie Dow posted on facebook that Northfield Animal Haven had suffered a break in on the night of 14 November.

She wrote:

“hello to the evil people who went to Northfield Animal Haven last night. hope you are proud of yourselfs as you cut all the wire so the sheep could get out. and you poisoned my pony who sadly died today. call yoursels animal lovers. I don’t think so. This vendetta needs to stop before any other animals suffer and thanks to you I will have to spend a fortune on vet bills. what did my boy do to deserve it…. and if the people who did this are reading this hope you are proud of yoursels.” 
– Jackie Dow on NAH’s facebook page, 15 Nov 2016.

Aberdeen Voice sent Ms Dow an email to clarify why she thinks she knows who did this act, why she thinks they are animal lovers and what vendetta she is referring to. When / if she replies, we will print her response.

Northfield also echoed this allegation; on its Facebook page owner Kelly Cable wrote:

“got up this morning to find fencing cut out onto main road for the sheep and horses, lovely little auguero who everyone met at the Super Saturday locked in a portacabin and sadly he was very toxic, no gut sounds at all so he had to be pts [put to sleep]. Very evil twisted people out there and when they get caught I hope they throw the book at them.”
– Northfield Animal Haven Facebook page.

It seems that Ms Dow and Eric Cable had suspects for this very odd crime in mind – and Eric decided to name me and blame me for this event:

“Well the haters have really done it this time. A 22 month old Shetland pony poisoned last night after locking it in a feed store I hope that cowbag Suzanne Kelly is f**king happy with her work now the most evil bast///on on this planet I believe that she is now encouraging activists and it looks like they decided to pay a visit last night cut fence wire let sheep out locked a trusting wee pony into a portakabin and poison the wee toot… the vets want to speak to the police when they arrive.”

The Cables assert in their posts on the incident that the press and police were informed. 

However, when alerted to this development, I telephoned the Police Scotland media arm – the spokesperson could find no such report. On Monday 21 November the police now have an incident report – which only concerns a fence. No pony is mentioned.

The police have been asked to say when this incident was reported considering there was no such report on their books when Eric Cable’s post claimed the vet wanted to speak to the police when they arrived. It currently seems that while Cable wrote those words about police arriving, the police had no information whatsoever about the incident. 

Sources associated with local newspapers were unaware of anyone contacting them about a poisoned animal or vandalism. No news reports have been published about this alleged incident which was meant to have happened 6 days ago. There was no outreach from Northfield to other shelters in the area to warn them of potential vandals in the area.

The very idea of the crime is a bizarre one. There are many incidents of livestock being stolen, and last year there was a horrific attack on a mare in a field.

But to cut a fence and then, oddly, to sneak past the CCTV system it is understood operates at NAH, for the purpose of taking one of the 170+ animals and locking it inside a feed store beggars belief.

In the past, two animals at Northfield were allowed to overeat with fatal consequences. In a separate incident, an elderly horse was left to freeze to death in a field. Could this possibly be yet another instance demonstrating that a woman with health issues (in her own words) might not be best able to look after 170 animals?

Things took a dark turn following Eric Cable’s post. Several people made threatening posts, and one man who had in the past made threats, shared Jackie Dow’s post over 2 dozen times. The threats were reported to Police Scotland. Many have since been deleted from facebook.

Two of the more concerning threats were:

“They won’t be so smart when we get hold of them. Silent justice and as for that f**king reporter and her pals it’s on f**kers”

and …

“I will find you. I will hurt you.”

There are many times over the course of investigating how the Cables operate that I have been called a liar by Eric and Kelly Cable. I have asked them to apologise for the defamatory remarks – or to at the very least point out what portions of my articles they consider to be ‘lies’.

All of my claims have sources – very often I am quoting back contradictory claims that Kelly Cable has herself made over the course of time.

One day she will say NAH rescues all farm animals; the next she claims everyone knows they also sell animals at the Thainstone market and it’s not her affair what happens to such sold animals.

She will one day say that no animal will ever be put to sleep whilst her fundraising appeals clearly say that unless money is found, animals will be put to sleep. 

The Cables have been asked to apologise on Facebook, Twitter and to the Aberdeen Voice for publication of a full apology, or I will have no choice but to seek legal remedy for the ongoing, serious defamation – and not least this latest unfounded attack by Mr Cable which seems to have led to threats of violence.

In a previous facebook post, Kelly Cable had gave her permission for me to see her veterinarian’s records; I wrote to the vet at the time, who refused to release any information. 

After this alleged pony poisoning and Eric Cable’s post saying the vet wanted to speak to the police (who had not been told about a poisoned pony it should be remembered), I emailed the vet once again. A source made me aware of The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ position:

‘The duty of confidentiality is important but it is not absolute and information can be disclosed in certain circumstances, for example where the client’s consent has been given, where disclosure can be justified by animal welfare concerns or the wider public interest.’

Considering Northfield has been asking the public for money for years and, as previous articles demonstrate, sometimes doing so under false pretences, and considering the number of animals injured and neglected at Northfield over time, it is hoped the vet will release information.

Since this poisoning tale appeared on Facebook, someone was in touch concerning a pony that died there of blood poisoning – how many avoidable deaths and injuries will it take for the vet to raise concerns with the authorities and let the donating public know what is going on?

I posted this request for apology and many questions about the incident on the Northfield Animal Haven Facebook page. The page is now offline. 

Aberdeen Voice will follow this story and report any and all updates.

Aberdeen Voice is sorry to hear that yet another animal has had an avoidable death at Northfield. If indeed vandals cut a fence, snuck in, and put the animal in a feed store – then we are confident the CCTV will have caught them, and we hope they will be brought to justice.

Should it be conceivable that the truth is still to be determined and information has been withheld or warped, possibly to cover a further incident of fatal animal overfeeding and/or other form of negligence, Aberdeen Voice is equally hopeful that the truth will come out. In the mean time, we are receiving yet more stories from people who have had business/animal welfare dealings with the Cable family.

Anyone with any further information is invited to please contact Aberdeen Voice in strictest confidence.

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Aug 262016
 

No activity, however benign it should be, is safe from scams and frauds. Before assuming that every photo of an animal to be rescued is genuine – before assuming any charity is genuine, here are some points to bear in mind. By Suzanne Kelly.

willowsgingerEveryone who loves animals can have that sentimentality turned into a powerful weapon by scammers and fraudsters.

Reputable animal charities, animal welfare organisations, consumer protection bodies will all warn you to be careful who you send your money
to.

Scambusters identifies the seven most common types of animal charity frauds on its website.

Top of the list is people soliciting donations for animals that do not exist or that are nothing to do with the charity. Aberdeen Voice reported on one such story locally.

Northfield Animal Haven used photographs on several occasions in its fundraising – and the photographs turned out to be animals that had no connection to this organisation at all.

Despite bluster, threats and denials from Northfield, the facts remain:  the photos used were of other people’s animals which had no connection to NAH.

Some of the owners were extremely displeased at the use of photographs appropriated from their own websites without permission – which would not have been granted.

John Robins of Animal Concern Advice Line said:

“Regretfully the time is long overdue when all animal sanctuaries and rescue centres need to be licensed, inspected by an independent authority and maintained to high minimum standards. A true animal sanctuary does not send any animals to slaughter, does not breed animals and does its best to find good homes for life for the animals it rescues.

“Numerous times a year we hear of “sanctuaries” which are really no more than well-meaning animal hoarders where one or two people, without the necessary space, financial resources or expertise take in numerous cats and/or dogs and sometimes farm animals and horses . Before long they discover they cannot pay for vets’ bills or even for food for the animals. The animals end up ill, emaciated and infested with worms, ticks, fleas and other parasites.

“Sometimes by the time the authorities realise there is a problem all they find are dead and dying animals. If you are requested to donate to an animal sanctuary there are several questions you should ask first. Is the sanctuary a registered charity? If the answer is ‘yes’ double-check with the Charity Regulator. If the answer is ‘no’ ask why not and how can they survive without the extra money charity status provides.

Ask for copies of its constitution and most recent accounts. Find out what animals it has and how it rehomes them. Are the animals neutered and is the sanctuary registered with a local vet? If you re-home an animal from a rescue centre, expect to pay a realistic fee to cover veterinary costs such as neutering, vaccinations and micro-chipping. Do not agree to pay a rescue centre large sums of money for pedigree dogs or fashionable cross-breeds.

“Expect the rescue centre to home-check you to ensure your premises are suitable for the animal you are taking on. If they do not do a home check they are not doing their job properly. Do not confuse animal sanctuaries with commercial enterprises such as working farms with visitor facilities, petting zoos or commercial falconry centres.”

Hoarders too masquerade as rescues. Any person or organisation that takes in more animals than it can support or continues to take in animals while unable to afford basics for existing rescues may well be a hoarder. Best Friends Animal Society has this to say on the subject:

“Collective denial – of individuals, of the whole group – may have contributed to the cats’ suffering. “It’s becoming a common thing,” says Dr. Gary Patronek, a veterinarian, epidemiologist and director of animal welfare and protection for the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and the founder of the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC).

“We really don’t understand how groups of people, as opposed to individuals acting alone, could ignore suffering and death in a shelter or rescue environment. At least three different types of hoarders have been identified: overwhelmed caregiver, rescue hoarder and exploiter hoarder. It is the latter that is the least likely to have good intentions.””

One final word: any reputable charity will always make measured, logical, precise responses to the public’s concerns. Does your chosen charity answer questions in a suitable detail, or does it make an emotional, threatening, illogical response? Your clue is in the charity’s behaviour.

Always check a charity is registered, how old it is, and the owner/operator’s background may also offer further clues as to its reputation.

How to help animals? Choose transparent shelters; do not buy pedigree breeds when you can adopt animals instead (our area Scottish SPCA rescue is a great place to find a pet). Get your dog or cat neutered. And – be careful where your charity pounds are going.

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Apr 292016
 
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Keith Marley (right) finds a home for ‘Jock’ the marmoset.

By Keith Marley.

Well done Aberdeenshire Council! Today, what little assistance you give to local charities was withdrawn. Today you implemented the changes governing charity shops which gave them a ‘discretionary’ 20% relief on their rates. Dated 20/04/16, the letter we received today informed us that as from 01/04/16 charity shops will no longer receive the discretionary 20% discretionary ‘top up’.

For the 30 charity shops in the Aberdeenshire Council area this means the council will raise an additional £32,650.00 in revenue from these good causes.

This was agreed by the Councils Policy and Resources committee last year at a meeting which also approved the previous year’s totals for expenditure and financing of £147,876,000 and £66,648,000. The same meeting which gave the nod to approve the purchase of winter salt supplies for the next 3 years totalling some £8,000,000.00.

But obviously charity shops and the charities they support have been scrutinised and obviously found to be not paying their fair share.

With 3 shops and a store The New Arc represents almost 10% of this additional revenue….or as we see it, ‘penalty’. The fact that the charity gets calls from various council departments seeking advice and practical help with wildlife and domestic pets doesn’t cost the council anything. The work placements we provide for school leavers doesn’t cost the council anything.

The assistance we give with council funded projects, back to work schemes, mental health schemes, young (and old) offenders, disadvantaged kids, college placements, school talks etc. doesn’t cost the council anything.

The fact that these 30 charity shops mainly occupy what would otherwise be long term empty buildings DOES provide money to the regional council. The fact that these shops pay the full rate for their insurance, water rates, rubbish bins, electricity just the same as any other business DOES provide income to the local economy.

The fact that some of these shops also employ staff, full time and part time DOES mean we are contributing to the local economy. The fact that these shops are in many cases a necessity for low income and unemployed families DOES make a difference.

Many of these shops run at a very low profit margin and along with the new minimum wage, provision of pension schemes and these additional costs their future may well be in doubt.

The closure of any of these charity shops means a knock on effect which will have repercussions on the charity itself meaning withdrawal of services, reduced capacity, and ultimately it is the council itself that will have to find the funds to provide the services which charities currently do for free.

False economy?

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May 292015
 

There are thousands of animal welfare charities that compete for donations; but scratch the surface of some of them, and you might not like what you find. Are animals well treated? Are animals being bred to fund such ‘charities’, rather than encouraging animal sterilization and adoption? Are some so-called shelters asking for donations to ‘save’ animals with one hand sending animals to market and slaughter with the other hand? Some local charities have banded together to help would-be donors know what kind of organisations are out there. With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

willowsgeese

Geese at Willows Animal Sanctuary – Credit: Rob Scott for Aberdeen Voice.

In light of recent events, four well-known animal welfare charities have formed a new organisation known as RE.A.CH to represent ‘Reputable animal charities’.

The aim of RE.A.CH. is to set a ‘baseline’ standard of excellence that all members are required to meet. All members of RE.A.CH  are registered animal charities that conform to the following declaration:

  • They are No Kill
  • They will never deliberately breed from their animals.
  • They will not fund their rescues from the sale of animals.
  • Members will strive to provide the best environment for their rescues, the best veterinary care and when rehoming animals or releasing wildlife, to do this in the best interests of the animals involved.

A spokesperson for the group said:

The group has been set up to help assure the public that the support they give is being treated in a responsible and ethical manner. The public can be assured that animals that come into the care of any RE.A.CH member will be well looked after by knowledgeable, experienced people who have the ability to provide long term care for them.”

As the law stands anyone can set themselves up and call themselves a ‘sanctuary’. It is important to point out that these so called ‘animal rescues’ are not official charities, they are under no obligation to account for the funds they raise, how they are used, what they do with them or how they provide for the animals in their care.

It is disturbing  to see groups or individuals asking the public to fund their animals under the banner of ‘not for profit’ or for ‘a charitable cause’ when they may have questionable knowledge, no accountability and no set standards of care and in some cases little or no actual experience.

Often many of these rescues start off with good intentions, but soon run into problems through overcrowding, lack of experience and of course, lack of funding leading them on a very rapid descent where they are suddenly faced with outstanding vet and feed bills which soon becomes an animal welfare issue resulting in either the animals being put down, panic re-homing to unsuitable homes or other sanctuaries having to pick up the pieces.

We felt it necessary to form a charter outlining our responsibilities. All of us need the support of the general public to continue our existence, but we are constituted to do so in a responsible manner.”

The four founding members of RE.A.CH are:

  1. Blaikiewell Animal Sanctuary
  2. Halfpenny – Farm Animal Sanctuary
  3. The New Arc
  4. Willows Animal Sanctuary

Between them they currently care for over 1000 animals. The plan is to extend membership of the group to encompass other reputable animal welfare organisations who are prepared to meet the necessary criteria.

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Apr 142015
 

New Arc Animal Rescue Centre’s Keith Marley has some timely advice for anyone who comes across seemingly abandoned wildlife young:  call an expert for advice and touch nothing. Keith Marley explains.

cub - 6.4.15The first of this year’s ‘orphans’ has arrived. This fox cub, yet to be named, is around 3 weeks old and will be raised at The New Arc (The North East Wildlife & Animal Rescue Centre) just outside Ellon.

Once health checked and weaned, he will stay at the centre until the end of summer when a suitable release site will be found for him.

One of the dilemmas facing wildlife rescue centres is the fact that it is never a good thing to keep any wild animal on its own, while at the same time not wishing for any more to come because of sad or avoidable circumstances.

It is always better for any young animal to have the company of siblings of their own species. This helps with socialisation, learning skills and prevents boredom and institutionalisation as well as helping minimise any bond between them and their carer.

We would recommend anybody coming across any young wildlife at this time of year to phone us immediately before picking them up, unless they are in obvious distress. We can offer advice over the phone, or even come out to assess the situation.

We would remind everyone that under no circumstances should any young creature be fed cows milk as this can cause all sorts of digestive problems even leading to death. In addition, we would also recommend that baby birds should not be fed live worms, mealworms or maggots.

Advice is available on hand rearing if required and we are only too happy to help day or night.

Update:

The cub, now named ‘Fidget’, had its vet check on Mon 13 April, and is in good shape.

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Jun 282013
 

By Trish Healy.

Nora, Dora, Tina, Brenda, Jemima and Flo are the newest additions to our family, of gorgeous hens.
We had read about the horrors of battery hen farming and wished we could give some of these poor hens a life beyond the confinement of the cage, avoid the misery of the slaughterhouse and then supermarket counters and fast food outlets.

Homes4Hens Battery Hen Rescue was found after many phone calls to rescue associations who guided us towards their Facebook site.

A trip to Dumfries was arranged.  It was a glorious sunny day, gorgeous scenery, and we were filled with the excitement of meeting our new girls.

Kathryn who does the rescuing is much younger than we had anticipated. We had imagined a person in their 50’s like ourselves instead there stood a very young woman with hens, geese, ducks and cockerels, all rescued birds, running about around her feet. So much compassion!

A large shed housed the new batch of rescue hens and it was here that we met Flo. She came straight out to meet us, her face almost covered with a lifeless looking overgrown comb, her body twisted and misshapen due to the restriction of the cage. We guessed she was one of the hens at the bottom of the others and had got squashed with missing feathers showing bare patches of wings and body.

She will come home with us……another five where chosen, we  wished we could have taken more but this was our first attempt at looking after hens and wanted to do this right. All Kathryn’s hens are wormed, lice/mite treated fully and vaccinated. They all come with a care sheet/newsletter and full after care for life!

A £5 donation is all she asks to cover her cost for each hen to help her rescue more. She carefully placed two hens in each of our carriers and we set off home.

Their new home had been converted from a 6ft x 6ft shed into a coup with lots of outdoor space. Their first reaction was to nervously look around and then huddle together in a corner. They didn’t yet know how to roost at night; they soon got the hang of it though.

They looked outside the coop to see daylight and sunshine with inquisitiveness, they foraged at the ground and dust bathed in the soil, stretched out their wings and ruffled their feathers (what they had at the time) Flo was the first to find a worm and ran all around the garden with it not quite knowing what do with it!

We have found the hens so easy to look after. They love a treat especially mealworms with porridge and will rid your garden of dandelions in a flash!

To see the girls becoming more confident, doing what is natural to them; to see their separate personalities unfold has been a joy.  Nora who rules the roost is quite happy to sit on your lap or even fly onto a shoulder. We only wish we could help more of these battery hens.

I don’t believe that people choose to be cruel and if more became aware of the conditions and suffering of all that is inflicted on the hens they would choose to make different choices.

Homes4hens has so far rescued over 4,000 hens and are now rescuing hens from free range farms to save them from the slaughter that awaits them all regardless of their rearing.

They are always looking for forever homes.

When we look at our girls we do not feel like heroes, we stand humbled. We ask them, their sisters and also their brothers that never made life beyond their hatching because their sex made them unprofitable, for forgiveness.

Our girls are fully feathered now, doing what is natural for them and what as living beings they are entitled to do. They get excited to see us and enjoy our company.

They trust us. We love them. In return they give us eggs!

Sources:

Homes for hens: http://www.homes4hens.co.uk/

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Jun 192013
 

Willows Animal Sanctuary invites you, your friends and family to its next Open Day – 22 June.
Come join the staff, farm, domestic, exotic and wild animals living at Willows.  There will be loads to do and see, and animals to meet.

New arrivals at Willows include a family of Shetland ponies. Penny the Shetland mare, rescued from a very uncertain fate earlier in the year, has given birth to a beautiful colt foal. Bertie was born on the 30th April 2013 and is an absolute treasure. He currently lives with his mum Penny and his sister Daisy.

Here is Penny’s story.

We were contacted recently by a very desperate lady who urgently needed help with two Shetland pony mares and a filly foal. The lady suffers from an auto immune disease and has become allergic to daylight which had made looking after her ponies very difficult.

She also expressed concern that the paddock they were in, which had looked good in summer, was now so wet that the ponies were sometimes up to their hocks in mud and she feared that two of the ponies were again in foal. Her only other option had been to put the ponies into a market which would risk a very uncertain future for them.

The ponies were quite a way from Willows on the border between Perth and Angus, but Animal Health were extremely helpful with facilitating the move to Willows. It was also some time since their feet had been trimmed and all in all Animal Health felt that the sooner they could be removed the better.

They all arrived safely and have been checked and blood tested by our vets. The filly foal has been named Daisy and the two mares are called Ruby and Penny.

The events run from 11:30 am through 4:30pm; they include:-

  • Live music,
  • Bottle Stall,
  • Tombola,
  • Plant sale,
  • Lucky ducks,
  • Gift shop,
  • Coffee Shop,
  • Raffle,
  • and Home-bakes.

Willows Animal Sanctuary, Lambhill Farm, Strichen, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire AB43 6NY

Reg. Charity No. SCO29625
Tel. 01771 653112
www.willowsanimals.com
email kate@willowsanimals.com

Apr 182013
 

By Suzanne Kelly.

Some weeks ago, a lamb was brought to Willows Animal Sanctuary near New Pitsligo. It had been found nearly dead, half drowned in a stream.

Tender loving care by the person who found it nursed it back to a state of health, and it continued to recover at Willows, all the while being hand fed and tended to frequently.

It recovered, and is now an adored pet for the many people, especially children who benefit from the Animal Assisted Therapy which Willows offers.

This should be the end of the story; the animal was saved, helped to recover, and has a home for its life being adored at a sanctuary.

However, if one local farmer has his way, the lamb will be seized, and Willows charged with theft and hauled to court.

Outraged animal campaigners and users of Willows’ facilities are appealing to this farmer.  After all, there is absolutely no proof where the animal came from.  It was found in a stream far from any farms.  It had no marking/brand/dye.

Court action will mean cost for Willows.  Appealing to this farmer’s better nature seems like a slim hope however.

As the Aberdeen Voice  Editor Fred Wilkinson reacted:-

“I think the idea of a sanctuary for rescued animals handing over a rescued animal to someone who has no more interest in the creature than how much fat and growth hormones he can stuff into it and sell it purely for it’s weight as a corpse is quite disturbing. “

It is hard to believe that anyone would claim a lost animal is theirs without any evidence, threaten and intimidate a charity with court and police, all to remove a rescued animal from emotionally vulnerable people who have bonded with it – but that is what is happening.

Footage of the lamb playing with a rescued dog, and other information can be found on Willows page on Facebook where you will also find related information.

The Facebook page also has a photo of the sheep; anyone who is opposed to the removal of this animal is urged to share the photo on Facebook to increase awareness; the campaign is called ‘Spam This Lamb’.

Aberdeen Voice is in touch with a variety of animal welfare organisations on this matter as well as the Blackface Sheep Association; we hope to report a happy outcome in the days to follow.

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Mar 282013
 

By Suzanne Kelly.

It’s the Easter Open Day at the Willows on Sunday, 31st March, with a coffee shop, gift shop, and second-hand book stall.

There are all sorts of other attractions: a raffle, tombolas, live music, Lucky Ducks, and bottle stalls.

There’s also a Body Shop stall, homebakes, a craft table, and lots more. So come along and join the fun!

Willows Animal Sanctuary is at Lambhill Farm, Strichen, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire AB43 6NY.

Further information: –

Reg. Charity No. SCO29625 Tel. 01771 653112 www.willowsanimals.com email kate@willowsanimals.com