Animal campaigners gather for rally outside Yorkshire travellers’ site

Protesters gather outside the travellers' site at Esholt
Protesters gather outside the travellers' site at Esholt

Dozens of animal lovers have held a protest outside a Yorkshire travellers’ site facing widespread local opposition over claims of “appalling” treatment of dogs and horses.

Two spaniels and a pug were ‘rescued’ last month from the caravan site in the village of Esholt, where Emmerdale was once filmed, amid claims that dogs and horses are being mistreated.

On Saturday, some 50 people attended a protest rally at the site, where allegations of illegal dog breeding are being investigated by the RSPCA.

A video posted on Facebook shows angry exchanges between the protesters and travellers living at the site as campaigner Beverley Wilson gave a speech on Saturday.

Ms Wilson said she and her fellow campaigners had made repeated reports of neglect and cruelty, adding: “We are here to give voice to these animals and draw attention to their plight.”

Earlier this year, MP Philip Davies criticised the lack of enforcement action by local agencies after raising the issue in Parliament.

A 13,800-signature petition was handed into Bradford Council in March, but members of the local authority told residents that while there are concerns over animal welfare, there is not enough evidence to bring prosecutions.

Since then, three horses have been seized from the site by police on veterinary advice after a visit by the RSPCA, who are carrying out an investigation into animal welfare.

Local campaigners have compiled a catalogue of pictures showing conditions of animals at the site, and have lobbied the RSPCA and Bradford council hoping they will take action.

Ms Wilson told a public meeting last month: “It is evident that public opinion against the gypsy site is escalating as more people become aware of the situation, and it is inevitable it will generate problems.”