CONCERNS have again been raised about a ‘cruel’ animal sanctuary after it moved from one South Oxfordshire town to another.

The owners of Didcot Animal Sanctuary – which was at the centre of a storm over the condition it kept animals in last year – have now relocated to land near Hithercroft roundabout in Wallingford.

Residents and animal lovers have expressed horror at the centre reopening on Fraggle Farm, labelling the site ‘pure madness and cruelty’ and calling for it to be shut down.

ALSO READ: Activists reveal 'squalor' of Didcot Animal Sanctuary after owners leave

In a lengthy discussion on a private Wallingford Facebook group last month, numerous residents expressed concerns, condemning the previous site’s conditions as ‘appalling’ and ‘dreadful’.

Some residents came to the defence of owners David and Julia Vaughan, who say the site looks after animals ‘well’ - but declined to let this paper visit.

One critic, Tammie Dawson, from Didcot, said: “They have got far too many animals to cope with. The field they are in isn't adequate.

Oxford Mail:

“The site does look more like a dump but it is not as bad as the Didcot site yet.

“So many people have voiced concerns over the past three years and they are still open, taking in unwanted animals.”

Owners Mr and Mrs Vaughan suggested the RSPCA and Trading Standards had visited and said the site was ‘all fine’.

Claiming that ‘not a soul’ had been on the yard, Mrs Vaughan said those suggesting the animals were living in poor conditions were ill informed.

ALSO READ: Didcot Animal Sanctuary hits back at accusations but admits accounting problem

However, when asked if this paper could visit the site, she immediately declined.

Another concerned local, who claims to have been to the site and previously bought a dog from the owners, said they are ‘classic animal hoarders’.

Wanting to be identified only as Victoria from Didcot, she added: “They don’t spay or neuter their animals, which then causes more unwanted pets.

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Victoria says she bought Lexi six years ago in poor condition. Picture: Victoria

“When I last went there, there was no shelter - on the hottest days, those animals would have struggled. I got my Labrador around six years ago. She was riddled with fleas (and) had to be checked for ring worm.

Oxford Mail:

The Labrador seems to be in much better condition now. Picture: Victoria

“It’s disgusting that they have got away with it… They need closing down.”

Mr Vaughan responded: “We don’t breed any animals. I am taking on animals that people don’t want.

“The animals are well looked after and fed and watered twice a day.

“We are doing our best here – give us a hand instead of criticising.”

ALSO READ: Wallingford Citizens Advice to close as Bull Croft eviction begins

Mr Vaughan admitted that fresh water has to be brought to the site each day since there is no running water available and that the paddocks are ‘not quite as good as they should be’ - but he intends to improve them.

The RSPCA said it could not comment for fear of ‘prejudicing a future investigation’.

National Media and Ambassador Manager Sara Howlett said: “Unfortunately we are unable to discuss complaints about specific people and what action may have been taken. We understand how frustrating that is for animal lovers but releasing information could prejudice a future investigation or could lead to us being fined.

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“We urge anyone with concerns about an animal’s welfare to contact our 24-hour line 0300 123 4999. We will always look into and, if necessary, investigate any complaints made to us about animal welfare.”

Council spokesman Paul Smith said Trading Standards ‘did not have any concerns at this time’.

Urging residents to make any reports via 03454 04 05 06, he explained: “Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service have visited the premises and currently have no plans to revisit.”

Meanwhile, the local district council have also launched an ‘enforcement investigation’ regarding the site.

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It has allegedly breached planning permission on changing the use of land ‘from agriculture to animal sanctuary’ and ‘undertaking engineering and building operations’.

South Oxfordshire District Council spokeswoman Lucy Billen explained: “The change in use of the land at Fraggle Farm is currently under investigation.

“We are talking to the owners of the land to discuss the best way forward to resolving any possible breach of planning control.”

The council was unable to confirm when the investigation began or was likely to finish, but added that ‘formal enforcement action’ could take place if a breach was confirmed - which could mean returning the land to its former use.