Hopefield - 35 years later
Paula and Ernie Clark started Hopefield 35 years ago and over this time Hopefield has saved thousands of lives and is currently home to over 500 rescued animals.
Hopefield has evolved from one acre of land in Pound Lane to an impressive 53 acre site. During the time Hopefield has been running we have seen huge changes in trends in the domestic pet market and we would have never imagined that 35 years later Hopefield would be home to monkeys, raccoons, snakes, parrots and even a skunk.
While it is a great pleasure to work with such incredible and unique animals it’s always sad for us that they are being kept as pets and that they ultimately end up in rescue centres like ours.
By the time these animals reach Hopefield most have physical and mental issues. Sadly some people think its acceptable to keep animals in totally inadequate housing that affects their health greatly. We have had situations where people have kept raccoons in a small bedroom and don’t think about the fact that when they are in their natural habitat they can have a territory of 7.5 acres! This containment leads to stress related problems like pacing and depression. Raccoons are also very sociable animals that can often be seen in groups. While they can love their human friend it’s not the same for them and brings into question if keeping an animal like a Racoon is a breach of the five animal freedoms “Freedom to express normal behaviour”.
Raccoons are now on the evasive species list and while this is not for welfare reasons it does mean that once the current pet population dies out they will no longer be kept as pets. Unfortunately, many other species are still not on this list. We have tried to give them the best natural diets that we can and enclosures that should make people think twice before purchasing such animals, keeping them as pets is just unrealistic.
Another big change at Hopefield is that we are now a popular visitor attraction. This helps bring in much needed revenue to continue our rescue work but also gives us the unique opportunity to directly educate the public about animal welfare. We also have a lovely tearoom and gift shop on site where all monies made go directly to the sanctuary. We love seeing all the happy faces on a lovely summer’s day and its heart-warming when you see animals that have had such a tragic start to life, that have never known love, have visitors that come down to see them specifically.
Technology has changed a lot over the 35 years. Hopefield only had an electric system installed around 15 years ago and we only got our first computer 8 years ago ! Now here at Hopefield the digital world is very important to us, we have a website to keep our loyal supporters up to date with the animals and what’s going on at the sanctuary and it’s vital for our fundraising to allow people from all over the world to support our mission to rescue animals and educate people on improving animal welfare. We now have many followers worldwide, even today we have received a message from a lovely couple who are planning to visit from Norway !
We often wonder how Paula and Ernie would view the sanctuary 35 years on and hope they are proud of how it has grown. While Hopefield has changed so much we have always kept to their views and beliefs and stayed true to the original aim of the sanctuary to provide a safe caring and loving home for life for all of our animals. We still continue to rescue farm animals and equines with over 70 currently residing with us !
Its only with the generous and kind donations and support from the general public that Hopefield has continued for so long - so a massive thank you to all our kind supporters!
Dave Schlaich CEO