A Basingstoke vet who has been campaigning for better welfare for rabbits in the pet industry is to be given an award at the House of Lords.
Jo Hinde is a qualified veterinary nurse and noticed through her work that many veterinary staff were not as comfortable treating rabbits as they were other animals, like cats and dogs.
The 38-year-old also noted a huge number of cases of sick or suffering rabbits, many of which could have been prevented.
As a result Jo has set up her own company LagoLearn to educate the public and vets about rabbit needs, and also volunteers with a number of different charities and parliamentary groups to highlight the issue.
And Jo is now being honoured with the Animal Advocate of the Year Award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), to be presented by wildlife presenter Bill Oddie in a ceremony at the House of Lords next Tuesday.
Jo said: “I was completely bowled over to hear I was to receive an IFAW award – it’s really nice to be recognised for what is my life’s passion.
“I have always loved rabbits but it really did strike me when I started work how little information was out there on them, especially considering this is the UK’s third most popular pet.
“It is not enough just to think of rabbits as a ‘starter pet’ which can be left alone and ignored in a tiny cage, very often they suffer neglect just through ignorance.
“Rabbits are so misunderstood, but have great personalities if care is put into ensuring their needs are met.”
Aside from rabbits, Jo also works to improve welfare for all animals and has campaigned on other issues including opposing the badger cull and third-party puppy sales.
Philip Mansbridge, UK director of IFAW, said: “Jo’s work to raise awareness of rabbit welfare is admirable, especially when the needs of one of the UK’s most loved pets are so often overlooked.
“We hope that her efforts will inspire the next generation of animal welfare campaigners.”