7 Awesome Animal Videos

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Dog Plays in Water Fountain

This joyful clip shows a dog playing in a large water fountain, chasing spurts of water as they come up from different parts of the ground. There are few things more enjoyable than watching a dog have a wonderful time!

A very furry wake-up call

Many dog owners will tell you that they can rely on their dogs to wake them up in the morning. Luckily for us these owners filmed their canine alarm clocks for us all to see!

Murkin and kittens

We often hear stories about animals who “adopt” babies of another species, and this Golden Retriever, Murkin, is one such animal, having taken on the responsibility of caring for a little of kittens who had been abandoned. Watching them interact is very heart-warming and incredibly cute.

Adorable foal goes outside for the first time

This video shows a Danish foal called Ljúf going outside with his mother for the very first time. What makes this even lovelier is the fact that this video is from 2009, Ljúf is now 5 and the same Youtube channel has videos of him being ridden by his owner!

You’ve got a friend in me

There are certain animal combinations that never fail to be adorable. This video of a cat and a rabbit playing together is unbelievably sweet (though we would advise being extremely careful when introducing animals to one another and never leaving them unsupervised!)

The Cat’s Guide to loving a Human

This comical video gives a handy guide from two cats called Cole and Marmalade, giving tips on how to love a human. It’s tongue-in-cheek but any cat lover would be able to sympathise.

Kitten time lapse

Time-lapse videos are becoming more and more popular and this was one of our favourites, following a little of kittens throughout the first 50 days of their lives.

What is your favourite animal video? Do you like to take videos of your pets? Let us know!

8 Books about Animals

books about animals

Groucho Marx famously said, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” We’ve put together a list of classic books about animals that anyone would be happy to see sticking out of their stocking.

1 – Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl wrote a number of books that featured animals (tortoises in Esio Trot, the squirrels in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the mice in The Witches), but Fantastic Mr Fox is among the best. It tells the story of Mr Fox and his daring exploits, stealing food from three bungling farmers.

2 – The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

The classic book The Wind in the Willows has inspired countless films, TV series and stage adaptations. It has captured the imaginations of children and adults alike with its vibrant characters, all of whom are animals living along a river.

3 – The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams

The Velveteen Rabbit tells the inspiring tale of a stuffed rabbit toy who dreams of being a real rabbit, but knows that his owner needs him. The story is in turns tragic and life-affirming, and is sure to move even the most stoic reader to tears (and is, incidentally, my personal favourite).

4 – Black Beauty – Anna Sewell

If you’ve ever seen the 1994 film adaptation of this definitive children’s novel you’ll already know what an emotional rollercoaster it is. Telling the story of a black horse from foalhood to his twilight years the reader follows Beauty as he makes new friends, faces hardship, loss and redemption.

5 – The House at Pooh Corner – A.A. Milne

A.A. Milne’s short stories about the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood have become well-beloved all over the world. As well as telling delightful accounts of the many adventures of a merry band of animals, it also teaches the reader the true meaning of friendship, love and loyalty. Quotes such as “Some people care too much, I think it’s called love.” will stick with you forever.

6 – Stuart Little – E. B. White

Stuart Little is a mouse born into a human family. The novel is an outsider tale about thriving despite your differences and has never fallen out of favour since its publication in the 1940s. Stuart races boats, fights off cats and has many adventures despite adversaries and challenges along the way.

7 – The Tale of Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is the story which made Beatrix Potter’s name. Starting life as a character she would write about in letters to the children of family friends, Peter and his friends soon made waves in children’s fiction and have continued to be published to this day.

8 – The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

Containing a number of short, moralistic stories, The Jungle Book tells tales about a boy called Mowgli who is raised by wolves in the Indian jungle. It uses animal behaviour to teach lessons about life, friendship and what is right and wrong. In fact, it came to be used as a motivational book by the Boy Scouts because of its allegorical material, and this is why the head of a scout pack is named ‘Akela’.

What are your favourite books about animals? What other stories do you think should be on this list? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

How to Pet-Proof Your Home at Christmas

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It’s Christmas next week, and whilst you may have put all of your decorations up, done all of your Christmas shopping and bought all of the food for your Christmas Dinner, have you really thought about how to pet-proof your home at this time of year? Here are a few things you should think about to make your home as safe for your pet as possible, and to stop any pet-related disasters this Christmas!

Make sure you hang all of your baubles and other decorations on the uppermost branches of your tree. You don’t want any to fall off on to your pet, or drop on the floor for them to stand on! Think about whether investing in those pretty but delicate glass ornaments is really the best thing for your pet, especially if your pet is likely to pounce on the tree!

Christmas lights should also be avoided around the bottom of the tree or anywhere in the home your pet could reach, as you don’t want your pet to chew through any wires and burn their mouth. Also tape the wires to the wall or floor to prevent your pet from chewing or tripping over them. An artificial tree would probably be the best option, since any ingested needles could get caught in your pet’s intestinal lining. Bear in mind that your pet could also drink the water at the base of the tree, which is dangerous with added fertiliser.

Keep any holly and mistletoe out of reach, since these will look like tasty treats to your pet! Leave any edible decorations off your tree so your pet won’t be tempted, and place tinsel way out of reach. Even just a small amount of this can make your pet severely ill. Also, keep any candles high up so that your pet can’t jump up and access them.

If your pet likes to chew, and you don’t want to find out what you’ve got early this year, then make sure you don’t place your presents under the tree. Your curious pet may wander over and rip the paper off, or even worse start chewing the gifts!

Just remember to consider your pet around this time of year, and factor their needs into your Christmas celebrations. That way, you and your pet can have an enjoyable and safe Christmas.

9 Festive Food Swaps

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Christmas always means a couple of weeks of overindulgence for ourselves and our pets. We gorge ourselves of gravy-soaked spuds and chipolata sausages and eventually find ourselves on the sofa with bulging bellies, feeling sleepy and over-stuffed. It’s all too easy to let our pets eat as much as us and snack on leftover Christmas dinner but this can lead to tummy upsets, weight gain or, in the worst cases, choking. Here’s a handy list of 9 Festive Food Swaps that you can tape to the fridge come Christmas Day.

Swap turkey skin for… Turkey giblets!

It’s always tempting to give your dog or cat a bit of crispy turkey skin as a tasty treat while you tuck into your dinner, but turkey skin is nutritionally void and is likely to be very fatty and salty. It would be far better to cook off the giblets (often included inside the carcass) which are full of vitamins. This will make a healthy but delicious titbit.

Swap smoked salmon for… fish-flavoured treats!

If smoked salmon with blinis is one of your favourite Christmas canapés it may seem like second nature to give your cat or dog some of the fishy trimmings. While cooked, unseasoned salmon can be beneficial to dogs, smoked salmon is soaked in brine as part of the treatment process and is, therefore, loaded with salt which can be rough on a pet’s kidneys. There is also a small risk of a parasitic disease called ‘Salmon Poisoning Disease’ which can be fatal. There are also quite high concentrations of magnesium in salmon which can lead to urinary tract infections in cats. Instead, keep your cupboard stocked with some fishy dog or cat treats to satisfy their seafood craving safely.

Swap gravy for… a wet food!

A rich, meaty gravy might seem like a great way to beef up a pet’s usual kibble for a festive luxury but gravy is a cocktail of hazards for a pet. Between the onions and garlic (both poisonous in concentrated form) and high levels of fat and salt it is not the best food for a pet. Instead consider pouring hot water on kibble to turn it into a flavoursome gravy (wait until it’s cooled before giving it to your pet) or consider a high-quality canned food in a gravy or jelly specially formulated for animals.

Swap fat trimmings for… meat!

Giving trimmed-off fat to your pet is often seen as a way to reduce waste while giving them a little treat but it can lead to weight gain and pancreatitis. It is much better to spare a little lean meat as a special indulgence. Turkey breast is particularly good.

Swap pigs-in-blankets for… turkey and bacon bites!

We all love a bacon-wrapped sausage from time to time, and dogs certainly tend to dribble at the faintest whiff of bacon. The fact is that sausages and bacon are both high in fat and salt which can result into weight gain, pancreatitis, kidney stress and hypertension in pets. Luckily there are treats around (like these bacon and turkey bites) which are a little healthier.

Swap mince pies for… pet mince pies!

It’s long been in contention whether refined flour is good for humans, let alone our pets. With ingredients in traditional mince pies including butter, sugar and suet, which are unhealthy for pets, and raisins which are poisonous for dogs, it’s best to keep these well out of the way of enquiring noses. There are plenty of recipes available that contain lean turkey mince and are sugar, wheat and dairy-free so that your pet can have a festive pie that will taste good and do good.

Swap roast potatoes for… mashed sweet potatoes!

White potatoes contain quite a lot of starch, and when they’re roasted they soak up fat and salt. Flavourings like garlic are also harmful. Instead you can whip up a batch of mashed sweet potato which is full of B and C vitamins, making it a delicious, tasty food. Just boil them and give them a squash with a fork. Don’t season them or add anything, they’re fine as they are! You can even bake them plain and scoop them out, but remember to leave them to cool before you feed them to your pet!

Swap Christmas Biscuits for… homemade pet biscuits!

It can be tricky to resist the wide-eyed pleading of a pet if you have a biscuit in your hand, but even a basic biscuit has flour, sugar and butter in it, none of which are very good for animals. That’s without the added dangers of raisins, chocolate or macadamia nuts which are all poisonous. Instead, try making homemade pet biscuits. They’re so quick and easy to make, and your pet will thank you for it! Kept in an airtight container they will last until New Year, unless your pet munches them all.

Swap kedgeree for… rice and eggs!

If your house is anything like mine, a kedgeree on Boxing Day is a must-have for turkey-weary palates and, luckily, a lot of the ingredients are great for pets too. A small amount of rice, boiled egg and unseasoned, cooked white fish will provide a host of health benefits for your pampered pet, just remember that moderation is the key.

10 Charity Gifts We’d Love to Give

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Christmas is a time to celebrate the gift of giving. When you buy a charity gift you’re giving twice; once to the charity and once to the recipient of your thoughtful gift. With this in mind, we’ve put together a charity gifts guide of some of our favourite presents that you can buy to benefit animals this Christmas.

For mum:

The RSPCA online shop has a wonderful range of little gifts perfect for mothers this Christmas. Their range of scented candles is to die for, with plenty of different scents in a beautiful graphic-printed lantern.

For dad:

These 100% cotton classic hankies will go down very well come Christmas, and the fact that they benefit World Animal Protection is an added bonus!

For sister:

If your sister loves makeup but hates animal cruelty consider a gift set from ‘beauty without cruelty’. Not only are their products 100% vegan, they donate a tenth of their profits to the animal charity Wood Green.

For brother:

This Spode Christmas Tree Cheese Knife set is perfect for the cheese aficionado. The festive decorations on the handle are sure to make these a favourite over the Christmas period in the years to come.

For daughter:

PETA has made a name for themselves by supporting animal rights, championing a vegan diet and speaking out against the fur trade and animal testing. This ‘Test tubes not bunnies’ t-shirt will help the animal-lover in your life wear their heart on their sleeve. Well, their front!

For son:

If your son is an animal lover he’ll love playing with this Rapid Response Rick, pushing him about on his quad bike and saving pets in peril!

For baby:

When you have a little one at the table at Christmas time, you can never have too many bibs. This one from WWF is 100% organic (perfect for baby skin) and is sure to catch any spilt gravy!

For wife:

Christmas is a time to choose something special for those you love, especially your other half. This rose gold bracelet is beautiful, but the company it comes from gives you the choice of a charity to benefit from 100% of the retail profits from your purchase. There are a number of charities you can choose from in the Animal Welfare category from the International Otter Survival Foundation to the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund,

For husband:

Earl Wilson said: “A woman may race to get a man a gift but it always ends in a tie.” I don’t think he’ll mind if this is the tie in question! The 100% silk tie has a Labrador-print, a subtle nod to its purpose as a charity gift in aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind.

For four-legged friends:

These retro-style printed tins (one for cats, one for dogs) are full of tasty treats for your pets this winter, and with part of the profits going to the PDSA you can feel satisfied that you’ve given your pet a gift while giving back to homeless and injured animals up and down the country.

The Problem With Buying Pets as Presents

pets as presents

We all have friends or family members who dream of having a pet of their own. You might even have a child who begs for a puppy or kitten for Christmas. The idea of presenting someone with a fluffy little gift is certainly an appealing one, so what’s so wrong with giving pets as presents?

As I’ve mentioned before, we got my dog, Buffy, at Christmas so you could be forgiven for thinking I’m not the person best qualified to argue against giving a pet as a present. The fact of the matter is that my family had wanted a dog for a long time. The adults had sat down to discuss it at length and spent months choosing and visiting breeders. They had decided who would take up the responsibility of training the puppy, whether they would have it microchipped, whether they wanted a boy or a girl, where the nearest vet was, which insurance policy to choose and whether he or she would be allowed upstairs and on the furniture. The reason we got my dog as a family Christmas present is that we chose a reputable, Kennel Club registered breeder who raised her puppies in a home environment, which meant that Buffy cost £500. That’s before you consider all of the other costs of owning a pet. It was more a question of allocation of money; we couldn’t afford a puppy and a karaoke machine.

We put a great deal of thought into getting our pet and, really, she was a gift from all of us to each other. Making the decision over the course of several months as a collaborative choice meant that we knew completely what we were getting ourselves into; we knew the kind of commitment we were making.

One of the problems with the idea of a pet as a present is the commodification of life. Giving a living thing to another person as a gift can add to the idea that animals are possessions rather than living, breathing creatures with feelings. This in turn can lead to poor treatment of animals.

A pet is an animal whose life is in your hands and even small animals like hamsters and fish can live for about five years. Taking on a pet is a commitment and takes time, money and years of love and attention. If you can’t be absolutely sure that the future owner of a pet is willing and able to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to pet care then you shouldn’t even consider giving them one.

You may think that it’s a sweet idea to get a child a pet for Christmas, but even the most enthusiastic and responsible child is still a child. Their interests and commitments may change as they get older so, if you give your child a pet, you have to be prepared to take a supervisory role and potentially take on full-time care of the pet if the child loses interest or is for any reason unable or unwilling to continue caring for it. You simply cannot guarantee that your child will still be as keen to care for a pet throughout the animal’s lifespan.

One example is the humble rabbit. For some reason people think that rabbits are great presents for children. They are cute and cuddly, they live in the garden so they’re pretty low maintenance, and they eat grass and vegetables so they must be pretty cheap to keep, right? Wrong. I adopted my boy rabbit, Thomas, from a lady I met in a supermarket. She told me that she’d bought him as a present for her children who had lost interest after a month and no longer fed him or cleaned his hutch out. In the two months since I’ve taken him on he’s cost me in the region of £400 for food, bedding, equipment, vaccinations, a new hutch and vet visits. So even a free rabbit isn’t a cheap one. In fact, owning an animal as small as a gerbil can cost around £300 a year just for food and bedding. However you look at it, keeping and providing for an animal is a big financial commitment, whether it’s a mouse or a Mastiff.

It’s not just money you need to apportion to the new addition. To use myself as a case study, between my two rabbits, a Labrador and seven fish I spend roughly 17 hours in an average week on animal care. This includes all cleaning, feeding, walking, socialising and routine maintenance. It has been a huge commitment and, I’ll freely admit, I have had to make sacrifices in my social life to accommodate my animals. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but you would need to be certain that the recipient of the animal is willing and able to prioritise animal care.

Ultimately, there are a lot of points to consider when making the decision as to whether someone is a suitable pet owner. Simply registering an interest or saying that they would love to have a pet is not enough of a reason to buy someone a pet as a gift; how often have you seen someone clamouring for a particular item for Christmas, only to see them lose interest in it months later? In the end I don’t think you should buy a pet for another person as a Christmas present because it’s not a choice that you can make on someone else’s behalf; they have to make it for themselves.

11 Fun Feline Facts

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Here at Animal Friends we’re fans of cats of all sizes. We thought, as a little Christmas treat, we’d clue you in on some awesome cat facts!

11 – Have you ever thought that you and your cat are on the same emotional wavelength? Well, you could be! Studies have shown that a cat’s brain is very similar to a human’s; it processes emotions in exactly the same way.

10 – Cats are great listeners, and we don’t just mean that will they not complain when you tell them about your dreams or about your day at work. They are literally good listeners; they can hear sounds in a far wider range than either humans or dogs.

9 – You probably think that your cat is worth their weight in gold, but the most expensive cat in history really was! His name was Little Nicky and he cost a whopping $50,000 as he was a clone of another cat.

8 – You might think that your cat rubs up against you because they want attention. However, while this is true, they are also rubbing scent on you from glands in their cheeks to let all other cats know that you are their human.

7 – Cats were incredibly important to ancient Egyptian families. So much so that, when a family cat died, they shaved off their eyebrows as a sign of mourning and held elaborate funerals including mummification ceremonies. Subsequently the cat was either entombed with the family or placed in a special cat cemetery with other mummified cats and tiny mummified mice for them to chase in the afterlife.

6 – It’s not just myth that most cats hate water, it’s actually good sense. Most breeds of cats have coats which are not waterproof so are poorly suited to swimming. There is one breed of cat called the Turkish Van which loves swimming, this is because their coats are uniquely textured to slough off water.

5 – In the 1960s two cats in the Dutch embassy in Moscow foiled attempts by Russian spies to bug the offices of Dutch diplomats; they heard the microphones switching on and scratched at the walls until the occupants of the office investigated. They found 30 hidden microphones dotted around the building.

4 – The world’s rarest coffee comes from Indonesia and is called Kopi Luwak, after the cat that lives in the region. The cat eats the coffee berries and partially digests them. The beans are then harvested from the cat dung, cleaned and then roasted.

3 – A cat’s jaws can only open and close, whereas a human’s can grind in all directions. This is why cats are unable to chew large food chunks.

2 – Interestingly there are a number of different names for cats.  A female cat is called a Queen or a Molly, a male cat is called a Tom, Tomcat or Gib, baby cats are called kittens (of course) and a group of cats is called a Clowder, Cluster, Clutter, Glaring or Pounce.

1 – In seven years a male and female cat and their offspring could produce a total of 420,000 kittens! With this in mind, and with thousands of cats and kittens in shelters in need of homes, consider spaying and neutering your pets, and don’t forget to support your local rehoming centre this Christmas!

12 Ways Your Dog Shows They Love You

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Our dogs have a catalogue of ways they demonstrate their love and affection. Here’s a list of just some of the behaviours and quirks a dog exhibits when they’re letting you know that you’re special to them.

Tail wagging

We all know that a wagging tail means that your dog is happy so there is rarely a more heart-warming sight than your dog’s tail whipping about when they spot you, or when they’re pelting towards you on a run.

Kisses

While we might not necessarily welcome a slobbery tongue to the face it is a sign of affection left over from puppyhood. All that dog breath is a token of their love.

Knowing when you need them

Dogs carry an instinct to protect and care for their families, like wolves licking each other’s wounds in the wild. Plenty of dog owners will swear to the fact that their dog knows when they aren’t well and pays special attention to them during periods of sickness.

Being your shadow

When our dogs follow us around the house (or garden, or park, or woods) it makes us feel safe and loved. It’s heartening to see that they want to be by our sides.

Sleeping buddy

Dogs tend to sleep a lot more than humans and there are few things more reassuring than a dog sleeping curled up by your feet while you watch TV or read a book.

Jumping up

Most of us will train this behaviour out of our dogs but sometimes they do it so they can lick your face and show their love. Even the most stringently trained dog will sometimes leap up out of excitement and joy!

Being part of the family

Dogs are distantly descended from wolves and share a social streak. They love company and, when a dog really settles in with the family, it makes us feel that they have accepted us in the same way as we have accepted them into our lives.

Leaning on you for support

You may find that your dog comes and literally leans against you or into you. This kind of proximity is a sign that they are comfortable with you and they want you to pay them some attention.

Play fighting

A bit of wrestling and roughhousing is a way to show affection and play with you. Play is important for their social development and it will help the two of you to bond so it will only make them love you more!

Checking in

Now and again your dog will want to spend a little time alone, either by pottering about the house or having a good chase about on a run or walk. It’s always rather nice when they pop back to check on you without being called, it makes us feel like they care.

Big smiles

If you would swear that you’ve seen your dog flash you a grin that could well be because they have! A Japanese study called “Behavioural Processes” suggests that dogs have a range of facial expressions similar to humans that they use to show the emotions in their repertoire.

Sniffing

Sometimes your dog will give you a really good sniff and (whether welcome or otherwise) this is their way of being sure of you, getting to know you, and forming a proper profile of you in their mind, as well as a way of greeting you as their friend.

 

Introduction to December

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It’s the first day of December and we’ve already experienced some rather wintry weather! Christmas songs are on the radio and people are starting to crack out their best (or worst) Christmas jumpers. Here at Animal Friends we are all getting into the spirit of the season, and we’ve got some cracking content coming your way this month.

We will be posting some great guides to keeping your pets safe over the holidays as well as some recipes and handy do-it-yourself gift tips so you can whip up a present (or a snack) to remember. It’s fun to get your pet involved at Christmas, but more than that it’s a great way to continue bonding with your furry friends who are, after all, a part of the family. Spending time with those who are closest to us is a big part of what the season is all about; Christmas is a time to share experiences and to celebrate the gift of giving.

Speaking of giving, last Christmas we donated £70,000 to animal charities as a special gesture for the holiday season. The donations included £20,000 to the East Winch RSPCA to help them nurse 100 seal pups back to health after they were beached. Being able to support charities at their time of need is really important to us so who knows, we might have a few seasonal surprises hiding in our Christmas stockings this year…

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, and good cheer and good company are so vital to that holiday feeling. After all, what is better than a snuggle in front of a twinkling Christmas tree with your pet?

Animal Friends Sponsors Animal Hero Awards

Fuzz's handler, PC Craig Calthorpe, receives his award from Elaine (left) and Ashley Roberts (right)

Last night the Daily Mirror held their Animal Hero Awards, hosted by animal-lover Amanda Holden. Animal Friends sponsored two awards, the Public Service Animal of the Year award, and the Lifetime Achievement award.

It was a very glamorous affair, and among the attendees were former Pussycat Doll member Ashley Roberts, model Amy Willerton and nature-lovers Brian May and Bill Oddie. Previous X Factor winner Alexandra Burke was the entertainment for the evening, singing some of her greatest hits. As well as all of the human celebrity guests there were a few animal invitees too.

Among the animals who won prizes on the night was Joey the capuchin monkey, who won Rescue Animal of the Year. He was brought to the UK as a pet and kept in cramped, squalid conditions in a Camden flat for nine years. This ordeal has left him permanently disabled, but since his rescue and relocation to the Monkey Sanctuary his health has come on leaps and bounds.

Elaine Fairfax, Managing Director and Founder of Animal Friends, presented the award for Public Service Animal of the Year. The three nominees were all very deserving, but there could only be one winner and that was Fuzz, the Metropolitan Police dog!

Fuzz proved his bravery in apprehending a violent suspect, despite the assailant hitting him in the face with a metal bar and punching him repeatedly in the snout. The suspect was arrested and is now facing charges, and Fuzz has fully recovered from his injuries. Congratulations, on your award, Fuzz, it’s well-deserved!

The other category we had sponsored was the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award. The winner was Lisa Milella, a renowned specialist veterinary dental surgeon who was tragically diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and told she had just two to five years to live. Instead of despairing, Lisa closed her veterinary practice and committed herself to traveling the world and sharing her vast knowledge and skill with local vets so her work can live on.

Among the animals she has helped since her diagnosis were an orang-utan called Pingky in Borneo, 20 slow lorises in Java and a rescued tiger in India. Her condition is degenerative and she is now unable to perform operations herself because of the deterioration of her motor skills, but she can oversee, advise and supervise operations which would have otherwise been impossible. She also challenged herself to persuade 100 strangers to each donate £100 to International Animal Rescue. She smashed this initial target in only 3 days and has since doubled it. She is an inspiration to animal lovers everywhere and we are proud to have been able to support this award, which she thoroughly deserves.

We’d like to offer our congratulations to all of the nominees and winners. You’re all heroes in our eyes!