A North East business that runs donkey rides and visits has gained the top award under the new national animal welfare licensing system.
Owner Marie Bates, who runs Blackberry Donkeys from Bates Farm, in Hartlepool, provides donkeys for a number of activities such as school visits, special events and even trips to care homes. New laws came into force in January 2019 that require any activities involving hiring out horses, dog breeding, dog boarding, pet shops and exhibiting animals to be licensed by the council.
Ian Harrison, trading standards and licensing manager at Hartlepool Borough Council, told the Hartlepool Mail: “These new laws are designed to protect the welfare of animals and set the bar much higher than the previous licensing system did.
“All businesses involved in one or more of the animal-related activities must be licensed by the council and be given a star rating of between one and five stars. Businesses that fail to meet the minimum welfare standards will not receive a licence.
“Blackberry Donkeys is one of several businesses in the town that are being awarded the highest rating of five stars and this is testament to their commitment to provide the very best of care for their animals.”
Marie, the owner of Blackberry Donkeys, told the Mail: “We love our donkeys and it has always been important for us to look after them well. It is great that the council and their vet have recognised this and given us the highest possible rating.
“I’m delighted that people can enjoy riding our donkeys and visit them safe in the knowledge that they are being given the very best level of care.”
Other Hartlepool businesses to have also received a five-star rating include Paws in the Park Dog Boarding, Poochie Paradise Kennels and Dovecote Riding School.