AN animal rights group has called on a village in England to change its name to promote veganism and fight "cruelty to sheep".
Activists from PETA sent a letter to the local authorities in Wool, Dorset requesting they rename the village 'Vegan Wool' in a move that has been widely mocked on social media.
In the letter to Wool Parish Council, PETA director Elisa Allen said the name change would "put Wool in the spotlight and promote kindness to sheep" and offered "cruelty-free" woollen blankets to all 2,000 households in the village if they agreed.
However, angered residents were quick to point out that the name of their village comes from the Old English word for "well", and has no connection to sheep fur.
Dorset County Council member Cherry Brooks said the "ridiculous" request had caused a stir in the village.
"A few people are quite offended but most people seem to find it amusing. The proposal will now need to be discussed at the next council meeting, which will be interesting," she said.
The request by PETA, whose motto is "animals are not ours to wear", has largely been met with derision online by villagers and outsiders alike.
One local resident wrote on Facebook: "The name Wool should remain as it is, the idea of renaming the village is utterly ridiculous. The most idiotic idea I have come across in a long time".
Another added: "Just suppose this ‘hare’-brained scheme went ahead, would PETA fund the costs of altering everything connected to the name because I rather doubt that a community without a village policeman, an underfunded medical centre and substandard roads and pavements is in a position to pay for it?"
Nevertheless, PETA have rejected the criticism they've received online and say raising awareness of cruelty to sheep in the wool industry is crucial.
"The only way we can stop the abuse rampant in the wool industry is by making people aware of it," Ms Allen said.
"In any case, we're not afraid to look silly or outrageous. It's not controversy or criticism that is animal's biggest enemy - it's silence."
And despite the mixed response, PETA said it might suggest name changes for other animal-themed towns in the future.
"We previously suggested that Nottingham change its name to 'Not Eating Ham'," added Allen. "And we may talk to other villages and towns about their names too."