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Remembrance service celebrates 80 years of the PDSA Dickin Medal

Last week, Petplan Charitable Trust held its annual remembrance service at the Animals in War memorial in Hyde Park.

pdsa dickin medalThe remembrance service honours the many animals that have served and died in conflict.

This year, the event also celebrated 80 years of the PDSA Dickin Medal.  The medal is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross and the highest bravery award that any animal can receive while serving in the military.

David Simpson and Cath Bourg from the Trust were joined by representatives from animal welfare charities, celebrities and members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and Mounted Police.Four members of the household cavalry on horsebackAmong the guests were the author and passionate animal lover Jilly Cooper CBE, Jenny Seagrove FRSA – actor and founder of equine charity Mane Chance, and Sir Derek Jacobi CBE.

“It’s always a privilege to organise this event,” said Bourg in her opening speech. “Every year we hear amazing stories about the courage, intelligence, loyalty and sacrifice of the many animals who have served, and continue to serve and suffer in conflicts all over the world and we are here to pay tribute to all of them, past and present.”

A minute’s silence was observed, followed by Major Daniel McRink reading the poem, A Soldier’s Kiss.

Sir Derek Jacobi Animals in War remembrance service

Jan McLoughlin,  PDSA’s Director General, spoke about the Dickin Medal and told the story of Simon the Cat DM. Simon was the ship’s cat on the HMS Amethyst from 1948-49 during the Chinese Civil War. He was awarded the medal for protecting the heavily-shelled ship’s meagre supplies from a relentless rat infestation.

Colonel Mark Morrison, Deputy Commandant RAVC, spoke about the importance of animals in the armed services. Flight Sergeant Mark Ginger,  (RAF) Dog Inspectorate, told the story of military working dog, Hertz (retired), DM.

Brough Scott MBE, Journalist, Author & Broadcaster, spoke about the WW1 war horse, Warrior, who was awarded the Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal posthumously in honour of all animals who served. Scott is the grandson of Warrior’s owner and rider, General Jack Seely

Mike Armitage, representing Pigeons in War, spoke about the carrier pigeon White Vision, DM.

Sir Derek Jacobi CBE read the closing poem.

Wreaths were laid by:

America Legion
Animal Welfare Japan
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
Birmingham Dogs Home
Blue Cross
Brooke Action for Working Horses and Donkeys
Cats Protection
Dogs Trust
Horse Trust
Irish Terrier Association
Mane Chance Sanctuary
Mayhew
Nowzad
PDSA
Petplan Charitable Trust
Pigeons in War
Royal Air Force
Royal Army Veterinary Corps
Royal Kennel Club
Royal Pigeon Racing Association
RSPCA
Service Dogs UK
SPANA
Thin Blue Paw Foundation
War Memorials Trust
Welsh Pony and Cob Society
World Horse Welfare

All images courtesy Wayne Jones Photography

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PPCT funds rabbit accommodation upgrade at Scottish SPCA

Rescue rabbit Scottish SPCA

A grant from Petplan Charitable Trust is making a real difference to rabbits rescued by Scottish SPCA.

Scottish spca logoScottish SPCA were looking to improved the quality of their rabbit accommodation at their Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Edinburgh.

“Rabbits often arrive into our care in poor health and can be carrying disease,” explains the charity’s Trusts Officer, Cheryl Reid.

PPCT donated £7,000 towards the project which has transformed their rabbit accommodation. Old, wooden hutches have now been replaced with 17 new, washable units, which were custom-built to fit in the existing rabbitry.

“The new hutches are easy to clean and disinfect, which greatly reduces the risk of disease transmission and offers the rabbits the best chance of speedy rehabilitation in a clean environment,” says Reid.

snowball the white rabbit in his new hutch at scottish spca“Being able to thoroughly clean the area more quickly also means staff have more time for other tasks such as socialisation, which is so important in finding animals their forever homes.”

Snowball is having a ball in his new home

One resident enjoying his new upgraded accommodation is Snowball, who has been in the care of Scottish SPCA for 124 days.

“Snowball came to us when his owner was no longer able to care for him,” says Reid. “He is around 3 years old and loves human attention. He is very playful and affectionate. While our rehoming team work to find him a forever home, we can be confident that he is safe, healthy and content in his new hutch.

“On behalf of the Scottish SPCA I would like to thank Petplan Charitable Trust for supporting the rabbits in our care.”

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How your donations are helping rescue ponies to spread kindness

rescue ponies small brown pony being led by child

A PPCT donation of £7,000 has been helping to cover the care costs of rescue ponies on the Hugs Foundation youth well-being team.

hugs foundation rescue ponies logoThe rescue ponies share their non-judgemental kindness with children and young people who are struggling with mental health issues. The gentle patience of these animals seems to work like magic, with parents reporting huge changes in their children’s well-being and behaviour.

One parent reports: “Emma was almost completely non-verbal by the time we got her there. She wouldn’t speak for days on end and would get upset if we pushed her to talk. Being with the Hugs workers and animals she relaxed. Her focus was taken away from her issues as she was told about each animal’s background and given the opportunity to spend time with her favourite ones each week. After each session Emma is more talkative, noticeably happier and relaxed.” (Emma’s name has been changed.)

One of the star rescue ponies on the team is Dude (below). He was an orphan Dartmoor foal who had become separated from his mother. He came into the charity in 2017. At that point he was totally wild and riddled with lice and worms.rescue ponies with children and young people“Hugs rehabilitated him and he is now sharing the kindness given to him with children, young people and the elderly community,” explains the team at Hugs Foundation. “Not only does he work alongside our youth team, but he really enjoys going out into the community to educate about animal welfare and management and he goes into care homes to spread kindness. He really is an incredible pony.”

The £7,000 grant has been used to cover veterinary bills, hay, bedding and feed, farrier, worming, physiotherapy, dentistry and equipment. This grant was made possible thanks to your donations and Petplan customers who opt in to support the Trust’s work.

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Dog thrown over wall at Freshfields Animal Rescue finds her forever home

A dog who was thrown over the carpark wall at Freshfields Animal Rescue has found a loving, forever owner right on her doorstep.

freshfields animal rescue logoMimi, a shi tzu, was understandably terrified when she was found by a Freshfields Animal Rescue staff member as they began their morning shift. She was in a dreadful state, very dirty and with her fur so matted she could not see properly (see image below).

Staff at the charity’s kennels spent many hours working with Mimi to gain her trust. Bit by bit, she began to respond but it was clear that she was struggling to adapt to life in kennels. What she needed was a peaceful, calm environment where she could learn to relax and enjoy her life.

rescue shi tzu with dirty matted furStep forward Jim Marsden. Marsden had been a volunteer dog-walker for Freshfields for around 18 months, and he was originally looking for a rescue Jack Russell to adopt. He happened to meet Mimi and, according to Freshfields, it was love at first sight. What began as a short term fostering arrangement has now developed into a permanent adoption.

“Within a day or two I knew I couldn’t hand her back”

“I was so happy to be accepted as a volunteer dog-walker for Freshfields, and have been walking some of the lovely dogs for over a year now,” explains Marsden.

“I felt so sorry for Mimi that I asked about taking her into foster care. I only intended to foster her for a couple of months, but within a day or two I knew I couldn’t hand her back. She has really settled in and is a major part of my life now. We’re out for two walks every day totalling not less than five miles.”

“It is truly heart-warming to see the transformation in Mimi, from a lonely, scared, abandoned dog to a beloved, cherished companion,” observes Deb Hughes, PR and Communications Officer at Freshfields Animal Rescue. “Hopefully, Mimi’s story will show everyone that rescue animals make fantastic pets.”

Currently, only 22% of people get their pets from a rescue centre. Over 50% of animals are still bought from breeders or online. Yet there are so many rescue animals like Mimi in need of a loving home. Marsden clearly has no regrets at all.

“Mimi is the best thing that could have happened to me!” he says.

Petplan Charitable Trust has just announced a grant of £3,000 to support the charity’s dog neutering project.

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PPCT supports Peruvian project to help improve animal welfare

boy cuddles golden labrador puppy PAWS

PAWS, the Peru Animal Welfare Society, is working to reduce the suffering of free roaming animals in the city of Cusco and surrounding villages.

Globalteer PAWS logoFounded by Globalteer, the PAWS project is also working to tackle the underlying issues that contribute to their numbers.

The focus in 2022 has been on people as well as animals. PPCT was delighted to support this initiative with a grant of £7,980.

“We have provided educational projects in 32 locations,” explains Jim Elliott, General Manager at Globalteer.

“This includes dog training in the villages. Our trainer works with the children and adults to teach them basic training techniques to their dogs. This will hopefully mean that fewer dogs are left to roam the streets and owners use leads when out with their dogs.”

Elliott says that this simple training has helped to change the way that owners viewed their dogs:

“Dogs here are often seen as just security guards for the house and livestock. The people were quite impressed how quickly their dogs picked up on simple commands, their views of the dogs changed to see them as intelligent and emotional creatures.”

black dog with peruvian lady owner is treated by female Globalteer vet

We show people what their dogs are capable of

Free roaming dogs are vulnerable to poisoning, car accidents and other injuries. With no veterinary care available in the villages, the PAWS Mobile Clinic is a lifeline for these animals. Free neutering also helps to control future dog and cat populations.

“It’s a very sad to learn that a young, healthy and loving dog that we saw a few months ago, is no longer with us,” says Elliott. “The thing is that these losses are easily preventable, through changing human behaviour.

“By showing people what their dogs are capable of, and what they need to thrive, we hope to change the way that people treat their pets. The hope is that, if owners value their animals more, the number of dogs that free-roam the streets will decrease, and the number of deaths along with it.”

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New star accommodation for New Start Cat Rescue

ginger cat lying down at new start cat rescue

The furry residents at New Start Cat Rescue are enjoying purrfect accommodation thanks in part to a donation from Petplan Charitable Trust.

new start cat rescue logoThe new outside pens have both light and power, making them suitable for use all year round. This has allowed the charity to help more cats than ever before to find their forever homes.

“After moving into our new premises, we have managed to increase our capacity from 6 pens to 16 so far with more to be finished,” explains Trish Duncan at New Start Cat Rescue.

“While our original plan was to ensure each pen had only one cat in, the cost-of-living crisis has meant that more people have been struggling with their bills and have been needing help rehoming their pets. We are still having less cats per pen than we were at our previous premises.

“The money has also meant that we have been able to treat the floors of the pen with a waterproof sealant helping to improve living conditions for the cats and improve infection control.”

accommodation block for rescue cats

Taking in more cats at New Start Cat Rescue has led to some extra challenges. More pens mean more volunteers are needed. Then there’s the higher cost of cleaning materials, litter, food and vets’ bills.

“We still have a long way to go to make the premises perfect, but the fact that we now know that we do not have to move again has meant that we can continue to invest in the future of our charity in the long term.

“We homed in excess of 800 cats last year despite closing while we moved and we are convinced that, with these new pens, we will be able to help and rehome many more cats and kittens.”

Based in Huntley, Gloucestershire, New Start Cat Rescue encourages responsible cat ownership and is committed to helping unwanted cats and kittens of all ages.

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HAPPA-ness for the rescued horses at Shores Hey Farm

HAPPA horse rescue new stable roof

The rescue equines at HAPPA (Horses and Ponies Protection Association) are now enjoying upgraded accommodation thanks to a grant from Petplan Charitable Trust.

HAPPA logo

We were delighted to support HAPPA with the improvements to the roof of three stables and attached supporting buildings at Shores Hey Farm.

The stables, which are part of the original farm buildings, have been home to many rescued horses and ponies since the charity moved to Shores Hey Farm in 1984. Having stood the test of time for many years it became inevitable that repairs would eventually mean replacement.

The £10,660 grant has allowed the charity to make improvements to the roof and to level the stable floors and purchase rubber matting.

HAPPA contracted Padiham Roofing Ltd to complete the project.

“They worked extremely hard to complete the project in just one week in June 2022,” says Julie Pharoah-Gan, HAPPA’s Head of Marketing and Fundraising.

“We cannot thank Petplan Charitable Trust enough in helping HAPPA to make it happen. This was a big project and without the support from the Trust it would have taken a long time to raise the funds to make this happen.”

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PPCT-sponsored assistance dog Kahn aces his training

Dog training success Kahn black Labrador

PPCT has been proudly sponsoring the training of assistance dogs for a number of years in partnership with Dogs For Good.

Dogs for Good logoMany of you will be familiar with Juno through our newsletters, social media posts and news stories. Although Juno was a wonderfully natured and intelligent dog, the difficult decision was taken to remove her from the training programme. She was just too sociable! She is now happy and settled in a loving home.

Enter black Labrador x golden retriever Kahn who spent the first 12 months of his life with one of the charity’s volunteer Puppy Socialisers. With the support and guidance of Dogs For Good, he developed into a confident and well-adjusted dog in readiness for his future role as an assistance dog.

assistance dog kahn crosses road with lady in wheelchairOnce Kahn’s puppy socialisation ended, he started his assistance training at the charity’s centre in Banbury. Kahn has now completed all his training and is a fully qualified assistance dog. His Trainer has this to say on his progress:

“Kahn has flourished during his training and has thoroughly enjoyed learning all the skills that he will utilise as an assistance dog. He has enthusiastically learnt all the task work that is required to pass training. It’s hard to say which is his favourite!

Kahn can retrieve a purse, keys, remote control and more

“Kahn particularly likes to pull off gloves, socks and jacket sleeves to help a person undress. He also likes to pull open doors using a pull rope. He has learnt to retrieve a variety of articles such as a purse, keys, remote control and glasses case.

“Kahn loves using his paws to push objects such as pushing down footplates on a wheelchair. He also uses his nose to push objects such as access buttons and light switches. Kahn is very confident and steady walking next to a wheelchair in a variety of different environments.

“He has been a joy for our volunteer Boarders who he has stayed with throughout his training. They have taken him out for day trips and he has enjoyed regular long weekend walks that usually ended with a swim in the river with his doggy pals!

“Kahn has been partnered with a lady who has physical disabilities. His partner adores him and the pair have formed a strong bond.

“Kahn has made us all very proud! Thank you Petplan Charitable Trust for sponsoring Kahn on his journey to become a life-changing assistance dog.”

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Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home launches Dog Care Clinics

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home prepares to launch Dog Care Clinics.

The initiative has been supported with a donation from Petplan Charitable Trust.

“Thank you ever so much once again for the £5,000 granted to Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home in 2022,” says Karlyn Robertson, the charity’s Development Manager. “These funds have allowed our team to create and begin to implement a new plan to support pet owners in the community.”

The charity has a history of outreach with their Canine First Aid clinics. They also support 2,600 pets every month through their pet food bank. However, food is only part of the challenge for pet owners living in pet poverty.

“Often, pet owners struggle to pay for pet insurance and/or vet bills,” explains Roberston. “This funding has allowed us to kick start a new initiative aimed at supporting dog owners with the care of their pets.

“In the first six months, we plan to deliver six dog care clinics per month. These clinics will be strategically dispersed to support as many pet owners across South, East and Central Scotland as possible. The clinics will be drop-in, however we would expect to see 15 pet owners per clinic, totalling 90+ dogs supported per month. In the following six months, we’d hope to expand to at least 8 clinics per month, supporting 120+ dogs.”

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PPCT donates £10,000 to Bristol Animal Rescue Centre

vet examines golden labrador at Bristol Animal Rescue Centre outreach clinic

Petplan Charitable Trust has donated £10,000 to Bristol Animal Rescue Centre to support their outreach clinics.

Bristol Animal Rescue Centre logoThe charity runs two outreach clinics in Lawrence Weston and Knowle West. They provide access to veterinary care for pet owners on lower incomes.

“We’re delighted to have received a £10,000 grant from PetPlan to help fund our Outreach clinics,” says Anna O’Dell, Fundraising & Communications Manager at Bristol Animal Rescue Centre.

“We’ve been helping, healing and homing Bristol’s vulnerable animals since 1887, and our outreach services are a vital part of the work that we do by offering free and low-cost treatment to pets in two local areas.  We’re grateful to have this support from Petplan Charitable Trust and will continue to develop our services, ensuring that more animals get the treatment they need.”

According to the charity, the clinics help as many as 3,000 animals and their families every year. This vital service helps to keep pets and their owners together.

The charity also rehomes animals and is committed to a non-selective intake policy. This means they usually have a range of pets available for adoption such as budgies, ferrets and rabbits, as well as the more usual cats and dogs.

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