I was delighted to read about the new animal hospital that is to open in York - and the sooner the better.

I think of all we get from animals - domestic ones who provide us with meat, milk, leather and wool, poultry to give us eggs, and let's not forget fish, and pets to give us unconditional love and loyalt.

I wonder what we give them in return - far, far less than they deserve.

I believe that battery farming should be phased out entirely, with people happy to pay that little bit extra to let animals live naturally and comfortably and slaughtered as close to home and humanely as possible.

I also welcome the new laws governing the care of pets - I hope that people will come forward to report any negligence or cruelty to helpless animals. I only wish that could cover racehorses and greyhounds that come to sad ends when they can no longer swell the bank balances of their callous and greedy owners.

I read somewhere that nations' degree of civilisation should be judged by how they treat their prisoners, who, to my mind, are treated far too well in this country.

I would judge the civilisation of a nation by the way it treats its animals. France (foie gras) Spain (bull-fighting) and China (bear-bating) fight for bottom place.

I would like to see Britain lead the world in the way to treat animals humanely. We could be well on the way to that goal if enough people put such care on the priority list.

I would vote for any Government that not only pledged to make the lives of all living creatures as happy and comfortable as possible but carried out that promise to the letter.

Heather Causnett, Escrick Park Gardens, Escrick, York.