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Meet the bunny girl; Pets.

Byline: With Felicity Newson

WHITE Rabbits! It's what many of us superstitiously say when we wake up on the first day of a new month.

But in Nadine Ashton's case it's not just a case of white rabbits - but black rabbits, grey rabbits, variegated rabbits and hamsters, chinchillas and guinea pigs.

For more than 20 years Nadine has run Rabbit Rescue - a sanctuary and rehoming centre for abused and abandoned bunnies and all kinds of other small mammals, too.

Three years ago when her husband Sam died, Nadine was so determined to keep her animal welfare work going that she sold up and moved to a smaller house in Wirral to ensure she would have enough money to stay afloat.

And although she will be 70 on Tuesday, Nadine has no intention of ever giving up the round-theclock care which she gives to as many as 80 rabbits at a time.

Arriving at Nadine's ordinary little house in Moreton, there is no indication that beyond the front door is a world which could have come straight out of a Beatrix Potter story.

Because her back living room is full of cages housing white rats, guinea pigs, hamsters and beautiful grey chinchillas, with their distinctive rippled fur.

And outside, her long garden is entirely given over to rabbits.

Not content with a menagerie which would outrival some small zoos, animal-mad Nadine also has several hens and two dogs - a rescue greyhound and a chihuahua.

Already she has re-homed 130 rabbits so far this year.

Nadine says: "It' s amazing how many of the rabbits brought to me have been abandoned in cardboard boxes - thrown out at the side of the motorway.

"Another common thing is people moving house and just leaving their rabbits behind - recently a rabbit and five of its babies came to me from house clearance people who had found them abandoned in the garden.

"Suzie another of my rabbits was kept in a tiny hutch in the garage and never saw any daylight at all.

"And Lily, who was found in Litherland, was terribly depressed because all her babies had been eaten by a rat."

All the rabbits who come to Nadine are neutered.

However, this does not mean that romance is not encouraged. On the contrary, Nadine has several special "Getting To Know You" hutches.

"I do think it's sad for rabbits to be kept singly, they prefer to have a companion, " explains Nadine. "I try to rehome the rabbits in pairs and like to give them names like Rosie and Jim or Marks and Spencer.

"It is nice to think that a rabbit who was lonely or frightened when it first came here, goes out to a home happy and healthy - and with a mate."

Her sanctuary costs Nadine at least pounds 100 a month, from her own pocket, aided by a little local fund-raising.

She also boards rabbits, asking just pounds 5 a week to cover bedding and food.

If you would like a rabbit and are committed to its care 'phone Nadine on 0151-677-9261.

CAPTION(S):

PET SUBJECTS: Nadine Ashton, with white rabbit Lily and black rabbit Big Ben (below), at her sanctuary for neglected pets
COPYRIGHT 2001 MGN Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Words:532
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