A Bedlington woman who is passionate about pets has helped set up a new animal rescue charity.
Ashlea Hamilton, 22, set up Helping Pets North East with her friends Vicki Withers and Jasmine Hazlehurst, both of Newcastle, with the aim to rehabilitate and re-home stray and unwanted animals across the region.
The charity also neuter, micro-chip and vaccinate animals before placing them in foster homes until a permanent home can be secured.
Ashlea, of Barrington Park, East Sleekburn, Bedlington, said: “We hope to reduce the number of healthy animals that are put down as well as support and educate people on the importance of neutering, micro-chipping, vaccinations, grooming and flea and worm treatment.
“We hope to make a difference locally and continue to expand.
“There are a huge number of stray and unwanted animals out there and not that many organisations have the capability to help.
“We’re extremely passionate about the cause, none of us would do this if we weren’t.
“It’s a massive part of all of our lives and we want to continue to make a difference.”
So far the charity have re-homed more than 100 animals and placed 23 in foster care since it started in May last year. They recently rescued six kittens whose mother, two-year-old Tilly, died shortly after being found with her leg embedded in a metal trap at Storey Street allotments, Cramlington, on Saturday, April 14.
Tilly was treated at Cramlington’s Croft Veterinary Hospital and was thought to be recovering from her ordeal.
Days later, however, her leg became infected and the decision was made to put her to sleep.
Her kittens are currently being fostered at an address in Throckley.
Tilly’s owner Jonathon Reid, 31, said: “I am really upset and angry that she had to be separated from her kittens in the first place.
“I don’t know a lot about traps and I don’t know what it was put out for but I am angry because of all the stress it has caused not just my family but Tilly herself.
“I want to do as much as I can to find out who is responsible and make people aware about what has happened.”
Ashlea, who owns three cats and a dog, described the trap as “barbaric”.
Police are now working with the RSPCA and enquiries into the incident are ongoing.
A spokesperson from the RSPCA said: “Some of these traps have been illegal for many years because of the huge amount of suffering they cause to whatever is unfortunate enough to come across it.
“We don’t know how long this cat was caught in the trap but the pain will have been excruciating. This is a serious offence and we want to hear from anyone with any specific information.
“Anyone who thinks they can help should contact the RSPCA in confidence on the 24-hour cruelty line (0300) 1234 999”
Anyone who would like to foster an animal should call Helping Pets North East on (0191) 263 3621 or visit www.facebook.com/helpingpetsnortheast for more information.