TELEVISION vet Steve Leonard has hit back at claims from hunt saboteurs that the construction of a new surgery is being undertaken by a company that supports hunting.

In an anonymous letter written to Mr Leonard, seen by the Whitchurch Herald, the saboteurs allege that the development of the Leonard Brothers' new site in Station road is being led by Lancroft Developments Limited, whose director is a hunt supporter.

The author of the letter also implied that continuing to use the company might bring the reputation of the vets into disrepute.

"As a veterinary surgeon whose responsibly it is to save the lives of animals, it seems ironic that the Leonard Brothers Veterinary Centre is in the process of supporting a company which supports the killing of animals," said the letter.

"We would encourage you to rethink commissioning Lancroft Developments Limited.

"A decision to use them could seriously compromise your business going forward and risk, not only your reputation as a veterinary practice, but also your personal credibility as a small animal vet working in the media, making documentaries for channels such as the BBC, ITV, Discovery and Animal Planet."

But Mr Leonard has countered the claims from the saboteurs, claiming that they are "barking up the wrong tree" in regards to developments at the site.

"Unfortunately you seem to be barking up the wrong tree," said Mr Leonard. "Lancroft Developments Ltd are not the developers of Leonard Brothers Veterinary Centre and, as far as I can ascertain from speaking to the builders, have nothing to do with it.

"Additionally, although it is called Leonard Brothers, I am not, and never have been, a director or owner of the business. I just work there.

"What I do at the practice, alongside a fantastic team of vets, nurses and receptionists, is try and make a difference to the health and welfare of thousands of pets.

"It is emotionally demanding work but we love it. Do you cry at work? It happens a lot at a vets.

"We have a very high incidence of mental health issues and a devastating amount of suicides in our profession. A high stress job with huge responsibility and long hours.

"We deal with some of the worst moments in people's lives, holding their hands and giving hugs as they say good bye to their best friends."