Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo website.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve moved my office onto a new improved casework system. This allows me to record correspondence from constituents and identify major issues affecting the residents of Washington and Sunderland West.
Some people may think it would be Brexit or some other big national issue. However, surprisingly one of the top issues is animal welfare.
Since 2007, I have received 1,147 letters, emails or postcards about the vast array of issues on animal welfare.
This includes dog fighting, the use of CCTV in slaughterhouses, wild animals in circuses, concerns over trophy hunting, the controversial badger culls, puppy farming, fox hunting... the list goes on and on.
This isn’t surprising. Every week I write letters to constituents about a whole host of issues, but it is clear that the people of Washington and Sunderland West are passionate animal lovers.
As a pet owner myself, I completely understand this. Animals are defenceless creatures and it is up to us to uphold our moral duty to do the right thing by them.
Recently, on one of Parliament’s sitting Fridays – where Private Members Bills are brought before Parliament by Backbench MPs to be debated – we saw three Bills on animal welfare – one on wild animals in circuses, and two on sentencing around animal cruelty.
Yet, all three were opposed by the Government despite huge public support for them.
I should know, I have had many constituents write to me about these specific Bills.
Labour has a proud track record on animal welfare issues.
We will continue to champion this record and build upon it, which I will do with renewed vigour, knowing that this is an issue which my constituents care so deeply about.