On Tuesday 28th January 2020 one of K-9 Angels founders Victoria along with Ambassador Suzie Demetri Robertson and team member Toni-Maree attended the All-Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group (APDAWG) Unsung Heroes event in Westminster. This annual event, co- chaired by vet and campaigner Marc Abraham and Dr Lisa Cameron MP and attended by APDAWG patron Peter Egan is always an emotional and inspiring night, attended by a group of people who come together due to their love of dogs and their commitment to dog welfare.
The evening consisted of a number of incredible speakers talking about the inspiring work being carried out in respect of dog welfare.
Dr Dan O’Neil – VetCompass, RVC
Dr Dan O’Neil, senior lecturer in companion animal epidemiology gave an extremely interesting presentation on the VetCompass programme, which focuses on generating a reliable evidence base that can support improved welfare in companion animal species. His research uses clinical data shared with primary-care and referral veterinary practices to investigate a wide range of health and welfare issues in companion animal species with particular emphasis on breed-related health.
Following a study of 7.5 million dogs with data provided by veterinary practices, Dr Dan O’Neil presented some of the key facts that VetCompass had concluded regarding breeds, conditions and injuries:
The most common disorders of dogs
Ear problems 10.2%, Dental 9.3%, anal sac disease 7.1%
Average life span of dogs
Most common breed in the U.K
Breed with the highest predisposition of:
Pug 19%, Boxer 12%
Doberman 3.5%, Weimaraner, 3.2%
5.4% Rottweiler, West Highland White Terrier 2.5%
Tania Ledger – Cavalier Matters
Tania spoke about her journey following the purchase of two Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies Molly and Dougal. Sadly when she was only a year old Molly began to suffer from health problems, and at 18 months old following an MRI scan she was diagnosed with Syringomyelia (SM). Tania explained how Dougal had always been a quiet dog but they thought this was just his personality, then around the same time of Molly’s diagnosis he was diagnosed with Chiari-like malformation (CM), many dogs with CM go on develop SM. Sadly these are just two of the conditions and illnesses that affect the breed. It was shocking to hear that 50% of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have heart disease by the time they are 5.
Molly and Dougal were Tania’s inspiration behind setting up the registered charity Cavalier Matters.
Tania set up the website Cavalier Matters so it could provide help and advice for potential and existing owners of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. There is also an online Cavalier Gift Shop, where all the proceeds from sales go to supporting research into improving the health of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, helping Cavalier Rescue and funding canine health reform groups.
Andy Swinburne and Sarah Carr – Naturewatch Foundation
Andy and Sarah spoke about their work and campaigns which include: badger baiting, animal experiments in the UK, animal abuse in the Ukraine (with Mark Randall – Hidden in Sight) cruelty free shopping, the compassionate shopping guide, World Animal Day (4th October 2020) and puppy farming in the UK.
They highlighted the Puppy farming campaign and the following hashtags:-
They advised that Naturewatch has written to councils asking them to share a list of inspected, licensed dog breeders on their websites. Andy and Sarah encouraged everyone in attendance to e-mail their local council to request this.
They also shared copies of their posters regarding illegal puppy farming and details of how to report it. They have recently been displaying these in service stations to get the message out there.
Since June 2019 Naturewatch have received nearly 400 reports of puppy farming....
Aneka Johnson – Cuddle Club
Aneka spoke about how she had suffered from mental and physical health problems but her life was enhanced when she got Chubbs her French bulldog. He gave her the motivation and energy to get better and she was inspired to advocate the healing effects of dogs, which led her to launch the Cuddle Club.
The Cuddle Club takes loving dogs of various breeds, shapes and sizes into the workplace to interact with people. Dogs are known to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and steady the heart rate as well as boost mood and lower anxiety levels. The Cuddle Club raises awareness and funds for their charity partners such as Street Vet.
Gavin Ridley – Abused Pet Refuge Project
Gavin spoke about domestic abuse and the connection to pet abuse. Many victims of domestic abuse don't want to seek help because they won't leave a pet behind. Many perpetrators of domestic abuse use threats or actual harm of pets to control partners and children. By fostering pets in secure accommodation the Abused Pet Refuge Project make it possible for their humans to get out and get help. Gavin explained how the abuse is cross cultural, affects men not just women and that it is not just heterosexuals who are affected by it. He spoke about the different types of abuse and about the animal victims which aren’t just cats and dogs but actually include reptiles, agricultural and exotic animals.
The Abused Pet Refuge project’s mission:-
“We will do our utmost to always find a foster carer who can be trusted to look after the pets of domestic abuse victims until they can be reunited. We save lives, animal and human. We also fight to change the law where appropriate”.
Emma Truelove – London Retired Police Dog Trust (LRPD)
Emma began her presentation by explaining about the different roles of police dogs, these include general purpose dogs, Trojan dogs, drug dogs, passive drug dogs, forensic dogs, victim recovery dogs, explosive detection dogs and digital detection dogs. She spoke about the unbreakable bond that these dogs have with their handler. The dogs usually retire between the ages of 7 and 9, and responsibility of their care and welfare falls to either their handler or they are rehomed to their adopted family
When the dogs retire they do not receive a pension to support them through their ageing years, which means people who take on adopted police dogs receive no financial support, they are also difficult to insure due to the nature of the work they have done. Emma spoke about her own retired police dog Prince whose vet fees cost over £11,000.00.
The sole aim of the London Retired Police Dog Trust is to ensure that the dogs get the retirement that they deserve. They provide support for medical care and treatment, meaning that their owners are not left with an agonising decision to make about the animals future due to financial concerns.
Emma spoke about retired police dog Obi who suffered a fractured skull during the London riots of 2011. Although a serious injury Obi was able to return to work. Obi was recipient of the first PDSA Order of Merit award for devotion and bravery in the line of duty.
London Retired Police Dog Trust’s aim is to achieve full charity status; their patron is Dame Judi Dench with ambassadors Sarah Champion and Rob Bell.
Nowzad – Pen Farthing
Ex Royal Marine Pen Farthing gave a very moving presentation about his time in Afghanistan. After one day breaking up an organised dog fight he was befriended by one of the stray dogs, this dog became known as Nowzad. Pen spoke about how he had arranged with extreme difficulty for Nowzad and a female stray called Tali, who had crept in under the gate with her 6 puppies, to be smuggled to safety in Kabul. After several months of fundraising and paperwork plus 6 months quarantine Nowzad and Tali came to live with Pen in England.
Pen set up the Nowzad charity to help reunite soldiers with the dogs and cats that they have rescued, bonded with and could not bear to leave behind whilst deployed in war zones. They now have the only large scale animal shelter and clinic in Afghanistan, it can accommodate up to 150 dogs. They have also now opened a donkey sanctuary.
They carry out vital trap, neuter and vaccinate and return programmes, as well as education and outreach projects, to improve not only the lives of animals in Afghanistan, but the peoples too.
To round off what was and inspirational and moving event, Eileen Jones of Friends of Animals Wales was the very worthy recipient of the Philippa Robinson Dog Welfare Award. This lady has done so much for highlighting puppy farming and Lucy’s Law, we send many congratulations from all at K-9 Angels!