OVER the course of the year, Bridgwater's Quantock Veterinary Hospital treats thousands of animals.

Which must make choosing the practice's pet of the year an arduous task - yet the team have done just that, and Bailey, a three-year-old Birman cat, has been named the winner.

Bailey suffered a horrific leg injury which took months of complex care to heal, but he is now back to his bouncy old self again, showing virtually no signs of his suffering.

“There were many moments over the months of his recovery that we all feared he would lose his leg but happily now – against the odds - he still enjoys all four,” said vet Heidi Hargreaves.

Each month staff vote for their most inspiring patient – “An extremely difficult task comparing the hundreds of very different patients we will have seen over the month,” said Sian Holman, the veterinary nurse who has special responsibility for the scheme and event.

This year the twelve nominated animals included a cherished dog whose condition had significantly improved with exciting, new stem cell therapy, dogs and cats that had coped with complex and serious conditions, an adorable young rabbit suffering from a life threatening condition and a 41-year-old tortoise who survived surgery.

The final 12 whittled down to a winner and two runners-up by the three judges: Mrs Parkin, the owner of last year's winner Rosie, practice manager Helun Jones and trainee vet Chloe Batcock.

One of the runner-ups was Toby, an exuberant six-year-old Cairn Terrier who was suffering from a complex and life threatening range of serious conditions – all now cured or under control.

The other runner-up was Joseph, a handsome 10-year-old RSPCA rescue cat who bravely battled his cancer for many months.

Clinical director of the hospital, Dominic Phillips, said: "The evening was a wonderful celebration of an amazing group of patients and their owners - all with unique stories and emotional personal journeys that we were privileged to be part of.

"Seeing the impact the superb team we have here at Quantock Veterinary Hospital has on the lives of our patients and clients is incredibly rewarding and makes me very proud."

As well as the three prize winners, all twelve pets of the month received a goody bag to take home and enjoy.