Supreme Honour For South Africa’s Most Successful Poacher-hunting Dog

A dog risking his life in the battle to save the African Rhinoceros from extinction has been awarded the PDSA Gold Medal* by comedian Ricky Gervais. The medal is recognised worldwide as the animals’ George Cross.

In the past four years, the acute tracking skills of five-year-old K9 Killer, a Belgian Malinois, have led to the arrests of 77 poachers; making him the most successful dog working with Kruger National Park’s Special Operations Team.

Alongside handler Amos Mzimba, Killer is flown in by helicopter to track and apprehend armed poachers when they are sighted, or a dead rhino is discovered.

Comedian, Hollywood actor and animal welfare advocate Ricky Gervais announced K9 Killer’s award, on behalf of PDSA, in a special video released on social media.

The PDSA Gold Medal is the highest honour a civilian animal can receive for bravery and devotion. Killer is only the 24th PDSA Gold Medal recipient worldwide, since the award was instituted in 2001.

Killer’s work

Both Killer and handler Amos can be deployed deep inside Kruger National Park several times a day, and Killer’s tracking and early detection of suspects is paramount to keeping Amos and the rest of the team safe from harm.

On one occasion, following a sighting of poachers in the infamous Bangu area, close to the border of Mozambique, Killer and Amos were flown in as part of a four-strong team including South African Defence Force personnel. While trying to find a spoor to track, shots were fired and, in the confusion that followed, Killer and Amos became separated from the main group.

Killer picked up a spoor to track the suspects, giving him and Amos the upper hand over the poachers. As the determined dog and handler followed the suspects to the bottom of a cliff, they spotted someone just in front of them. Amos shouted to the suspect to surrender, but heard a heavy calibre rifle shot and the bullet passing close to his head. He returned fire to save his and Killer’s lives before apprehending two other suspects.

Thanks to Killer’s tracking skills, 115 arrests have been made to date, but the fight against poaching continues.

Reaction

Killer’s handler, Amos Mzimba, said: “It is an honour to have Killer by my side. It means a lot that he has been recognised for his skills and assistance in tracking and arresting poachers. Thanks to him, we are arresting more poachers, but there is a lot more to be done if we are to save the rhino from extinction. Killer is invaluable in achieving that.”

PDSA Director General, Jan McLoughlin, said: “The PDSA Gold Medal recognises extraordinary acts of courage and dedication in life-threatening situations, and Killer is indeed a worthy recipient. His contribution to saving the rhino population has been truly remarkable. His track-record is astounding and we are honoured to recognise his fantastic work in this way.”

Killer’s award was formally presented by Ricky Gervais, who said: “Killer does fantastic work in the Kruger National Park. Rhino’s are wonderful creatures that are being killed in their hundreds by these poachers. Killer and his colleagues are fighting back. He helped capture dozens of poachers in the last year alone, thanks to his amazing courage and dedication. He’s making a huge contribution to rhino protection in South Africa.”

With the number of rhino killings increasing from 448 in 2011 to 1215 in 2014, Killer is an integral part of the fight against poaching.

Bruce Leslie of the Environmental Crimes Investigations Unit, nominated Killer for the PDSA Gold Medal. He said: “To save the rhino from extinction, someone has to stand between them and the poachers and that job falls to our rangers. Killer’s sense of smell is absolutely amazing at tracking people. He makes us more successful and increases our arrest rate. All of our dogs carry out incredible work on a daily basis, but Killer stands out for his tenacity and dedication so I’m enormously proud that he has received the PDSA Gold Medal.”

Since its inception in 2001, the PDSA Gold Medal has now been awarded to 24 heroic animals. Recipients include UK police explosives search dogs Vinnie, Jake and Billy for their lifesaving work in the aftermath of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London, in 2005.

For more details about the PDSA Gold Medal and its previous recipients go to www.pdsa.org.uk/goldmedal.

 

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Louis Smith Introduces The First People & Dog Fitness Video

Olympic medal-winning gymnast Louis Smith has swapped the pommel horse for man’s best friend today as he fronts the first ever celebrity fitness video for man and dog.Petsercise with Louis Smith sees the Team GB hero guide viewers through a fun and high tempo home workout – with the addition of two dogs exercising alongside him.

Created by pet insurers MORE TH>N and Wagglepets, the 11-minute fitness video includes a mixture of simple, unique cardio, muscular and core-strengthening exercises that will see both owner and dog break into a sweat when performed together (if dogs could sweat, that is).

Each exercise Louis Smith and his canine companions perform in the video has been developed by a vet and personal trainer and will ensure people following at home feel the burn – while also giving their dogs a healthy run around and supplementing the regular outdoor exercise they should get.

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Ruby ‘The Superdog’s’ Painting Is Being Auctioned On Behalf of Dog Charity  


Ruby the superdog has painted her own picture which is being sold to raise funds for Dog Assistance in Disability (Dog A.I.D.), a charity which helps people with disabilities train their pet dog to Assistance Dog level.

Ruby lives in Surbiton with her 19 year-old owner Megan.  After a head injury in 2011, Megan suffers from dizziness, poor balance, hearing loss and frequent fainting episodes which occur 4-6 times a day.  Megan has been training Ruby herself to carry out a number of helpful tasks and hopes to apply to Dog A.I.D. this year.

Ruby has produced an original stencil print herself by moving the paintbrush with her mouth along the canvas, which was auctioned via eBay.  Containing the words ‘My ability is stronger than my disability’ you can purchase digital downloads of the stencil and watch Ruby in action via http://rubythesuperdog.weebly.com/artwork-store.html.

Sandra Fraser Dog A.I.D. Chair explains: “Seeing Ruby actually paint a picture is very impressive.  Megan is an inspirational girl who does not let her condition affect her life.  Ruby already does sterling work helping Megan and as a Pets as Therapy volunteer, yet I hope we will be able to help her become an Assistance Dog in the future.”

Dog A.I.D. was established in the 1990’s and there are currently 47 fully qualified dogs throughout the country.  Training takes from 18 months to two years with both dog and owner receiving specialist education from a network of trainers based around the country.  The dog owner is given all the tools required to constantly reinforce training methods learnt and also continue to teach their dog new cues and tasks independently.

For further information how you can support Dog A.I.D. via fundraising or volunteering please visit www.dogaid.org.uk

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New Dog Owners Told To Make Sure They’re ‘Rescue Ready’ 

Picture

Andrea Newton and Harry the dog. Credit: Finding Furever Homes

A NATIONAL dog charity has launched a ‘Rescue Ready’ campaign after a number of animals had been returned by their new owners for reasons ‘so daft’ you could not make them up.
 
Finding Furever Homes, which rescues and rehomes dogs throughout England, Wales and Scotland, is launching the campaign in order to encourage people to give serious thought to taking on a rescue dog and to not give up on them at the first opportunity.
 
Andrea Newton, who started and runs registered charity Finding Furever Homes (FFH), which uses kennels in Shropshire and Liverpool and places dogs in foster homes throughout England and Wales, including Bristol, Stoke on Trent and Dorset, said the charity already has a comprehensive screening process for people to go through prior to being allowed to adopt a dog.
 
But in recent months they have noticed people have been returning animals very quickly and for trivial reasons and they are concerned the problem will get worse as many people’s New Year resolutions include a life change such as exercising more or taking on a pet which often leads to dog ownership.
 
In the last six months alone, dogs have been returned to the charity under the following circumstances:

  • A dog was returned to kennels after being driven just 15 miles en route to its new home, as it wouldn’t sit nicely in the boot of the car
  • A dog was returned to kennels after a couple of days as his new owners said he was boring
  • A lurcher was adopted midday one Saturday and returned 9am Sunday, as their existing dog didn’t like playing with him
  • A boxer cross lurcher was returned to kennels after 8 weeks because she jumped up at (but not over or damaged) the garden fence twice in that period
  • A German shepherd was driven five hours from kennels to its new home in Scotland. The resident dog, which it had been introduced to and got on well with at kennels, didn’t seem to want him in the house so Finding Furever Homes was expected to go and pick him up
  • Dog adopted and returned a few days later as he would not go straight to sleep after walks.
  • A dog was returned to kennels because after smelling freshly baked pie and finding it was just within reach he helped himself uninvited

In addition to the dogs that were actually returned, other instances highlight how quickly some people seem happy to give up on a pet they were adamant they were committed to owning.
 
Andrea, who lives in Chorley, Lancashire and runs the charity on a voluntary basis, said: “In other instances one new dog owner had phoned to say she would be returning her new pet the next day as it had fleas.
 
“But with our encouragement, she took the dog to the vet and these fleas turned out to just be fibres from the new dog bed which the lady had bought for the dog and nothing was wrong at all.”
 
As well as highlighting some of the more ridiculous incidences which the charity has witnessed, now FFH is asking all would-be dog owners looking to adopt from any charity to ask themselves the question ‘Am I  #RescueReady?’
 
Andrea, said: “Over the years we have seen dogs come and go and occasionally go out and come back again and it really isn’t fair on them. Ninety nine per cent of the time dogs are returned as the new family were not “Rescue Ready” – it had nothing to do with the dog.

“Like all reputable dog rescue charities we have a comprehensive adoption process and for us this includes a home visit before potential adopters are even invited to kennels to meet a dog (or dogs). But it is always difficult as people sometimes let their hearts rule their heads and despite what they tell us they are not always practical and then panic and just think oh give it back.”

Now the charity is asking everyone who gets in touch to make a pledge that they and any other relevant family or household members are indeed ‘Rescue Ready’.”

Andrea explains, “From now on we are going to be asking everyone who gets in touch to make a pledge to being Rescue Ready. That means not only making sure they are ready before they get the dog but that they are prepared to put in the hard work to help the animal settle into its new home and that doesn’t happen overnight.”

Andrea believes for many people, despite being fully informed by the rescue, just don’t take in the fact an animal will need time to adjust to a new home.

She said: “The first few days are critical in the rehoming process and it is time people realised the story from the dog’s perspective. Please do not think about trying to adopt if you are not prepared to go out of your way to make it work. The dogs don’t need letting down more than they already have been. Sometimes dogs are returned to rescue through perceived behavioural issues. These can be brought about by either unrealistic expectations or lack of understanding or a combination of both.”

Finding Furever Homes is also sharing 10 top tips to give a dog the best possible chance of being your Furever pet, which is what every potential adopter should commit to when they first take a rescue dog into their home.

  1. Initially, restrict access to just certain areas of the house – a big open space after a kennel existence can be daunting and offer opportunities for things to go wrong.
  2. Sofas, beds and furniture is for another day – for now we are establishing boundaries and a few basic rules and that means giving the dog it’s own comfy space – bed, crate, quilt – something on the floor and where it can “be” in peace and quiet and learn that it is your house and allow it to fit into your rules.
  3. Keep children away from the dog for periods of time and do not let children smother the dog – it deserves time, space and respect from all family members especially the youngest ones.
  4. Make walks quiet, calm and on the lead – don’t let your dog run off the lead until you have built a bond and trained and tested recall in an enclosed space.
  5. Keep the same routine the rescue had as much as possible with times for meals and food etc. – gradually alter the times slowly to fit with your own routine
  6. Keep meal times quiet, calm and allow the dog to eat in peace at it’s own pace with no hassle or hindrance. Stick to the food it had at rescue and do not be tempted to feed it too many rich treats. Any change in diet should be introduced slowly.
  7. Be clear on the rules you intend to enforce – don’t “feel sorry for the rescue dog” and allow it all sorts of liberties that you will not allow it later. Be consistent.
  8. Start to leave the dog home alone for short periods and gradually build up the time it is left alone.
  9. Take your time. Do not ask too much of the dog. It does not know you, your expectations, your family or even why it has left the routine and security of kennels.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask the rescue for help and support if you need and don’t just ignore the perceived problem and then decide to give up.

Finding Furever Homes believes being Rescue Ready is an issue which is relevant to all animal rescue charities and it is encouraging individuals and other charities and organisations to support the campaign during January 2016 on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #RescueReady.

The charity is also keen to acknowledge those people who love dogs but are sensible enough to recognise they are not in a position to take one on for whatever reason and may never be.
Andrea said: “As a charity, we do as much as we can to find appropriate adopters and offer them ongoing support, but at the end of the day people also need to be prepared to make smart decisions and put in the hard work for themselves.

“For many people that smart decision may mean accepting that as much as they love or want a dog they are really not Rescue Ready and may never be in a position to take on a dog, so we would ask them to help in another way, such as sharing our campaign via social media, making a donation or even considering volunteering in some way.”

To support the campaign during Rescue Ready month please it via Twitter using #RescueReady and consider making a donation by texting FFHX50  and the amount in pounds you wish to donate to 70070.

Andrea said “This campaign is vital as we may live in a society where we are free to change our hair colour or our new mobile phone at the drop of a hat and where we can customise everything from our car to our contact lenses but a dog is not an object that will instantly behave as you want it to and slot straight in. They cannot be picked up and dropped at will.
“It is vital people understand that and they are sure they really are Rescue Ready, as owning a dog is a privilege, not a right and it is not for everybody.”

For further information about Finding Furever Homes and to offer a dog a home please visit http://www.findingfureverhomes.org.uk/
 
 
Case Study – Harry The Lurcher – Returned Through No Fault of his own
 
Harry is a very calm loving 18 month old lurcher who has been returned to the charity through no fault of his own and despite a comprehensive rehoming process.
 
He was adopted from kennels in Shropshire in July and spent just 48 hours in his new home before being given back for being too bouncy.
 
Andrea said: ““Harry is quite simply the most calm and laid back dog you could ever hope to meet and to have him returned for being too bouncy just doesn’t ring true as he was given no time to settle in.
 
“As we tell every adopter dogs needs time and patience to settle into a new home and become their normal self and 48 hours is just not enough time. It would seem it was simply another case of the owner not being ‘rescue ready.”
 
 
 

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Pet Xmas Factor Finalists!

Pets Magazine asked readers to post photos of their pets looking “a little bit Christmassy” to Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag ‘PetXmasFactor’.We were inundated with some fantastic entries of all types of pets from dogs and cats to bunnies and even hedgehogs and chickens! We’ve now whittled the entries down to seventeen very festive entries.

We’re now asking readers to help us out and vote for your favourites to help us decide which pet to choose for our fabulous prize. The lucky pet owner will win a 3D sculpture of their pet from 3D printing specialists Arty Lobster!

Please tell us which of the 17 finalists you like the best. We already have our favourites, but need a bit of help in making a decision!

Let us have your thoughts by 6.00pm next Saturday January 2nd, 2016. We’ll be choosing our winner soon after that.

Thanks also to everyone who entered this year and for the quality of your entries which has made this such a difficult decision for us! We’ll be running #PetXmasFactor again next year.

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Pet Owners Warned About Festive Chocolate Peril 

PicturePDSA Vet Hannah McIvor with Faith

Pet owners are being warned to keep tasty presents under wraps and out of reach after a dog from Glasgow became seriously ill when she munched her way through a box of chocolates.

Three-year-old Bichon Frise, Faith, sneaked into a room where her owners were keeping Christmas presents meant for family and friends.

She was lured by the smell of a box of mint chocolates and after climbing over a pile of presents, took the box from a wicker bag and tucked in.

Owner Anne-Marie Smith, 47, said: “I got home with my daughter and she spotted the half-empty box.

Faith had taken it into the lounge and eaten 27 chocolates. She had also been sick on the Christmas tree, we think she might have chewed the tree to make herself sick. I was really worried because I know chocolate is toxic to dogs, so we took her straight to PDSA.”

On arrival at PDSA’s Pet Hospital on Shamrock Street, Faith was again sick and became limp. Chocolate is toxic to dogs because it contains a substance called theobromine which attacks the central nervous system.

The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains and the greater risk to a dog’s life. Faith had eaten a dark chocolate mint selection.

PDSA vet, Hannah McIvor, said: “Unfortunately, Faith had eaten dark chocolate and lots of it. Because it was making her so sick, we had to put her on a drip to keep her fluids up and also reduce any damage being done to her kidneys. We also gave her medicine to help stop her vomiting. Thankfully, being sick at home seems to have helped prevent her suffering the worst symptoms and after being kept in overnight under close observation, she was able to go home again.”

Faith has now made a good recovery and the team at Shamrock Street hope she will be the last dog they see with chocolate poisoning this Christmas.

Hannah added: “Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery we are now going to raise awareness about the danger of chocolate to dogs and we hope Faith is the last poorly pooch we see this Christmas as a result of a chocolatey snack!”

PDSA’s Glasgow Pet Hospital is one of the busiest in the UK, seeing up to 258 animals on any given day. It costs the charity over £1.4 million to run each year, with that cost met entirely through voluntary donations.

For more information about PDSA’s veterinary services call 0800 731 2502 or go to www.pdsa.org.uk.


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Carol Concert Raises Awareness Of Homeless Greyhounds 

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World’s ‘Ugliest’ Dog Crowned Pet Hero

Mugly the dog, a previous winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog, has been crowned PetSafe® Pet Hero 2015, proving that beauty is certainly more than skin deep.
 
The pet products company launched a competition to find the UK’s pet hero earlier this year and was impressed by Mugly’s dedication to helping others despite his own difficult background.
 
Dropped at a rescue centre when he was just three days old, 11-year-old Mugly is easily recognised due to being hairless apart from one quirky eyebrow, but it was his gentle nature and big heart which really stood out.
 
Mugly regularly visits locals schools as part of the Read to Dogs scheme, which encourages nervous readers to speak out loud to dogs to boost their confidence, and also takes part in initiatives to help children feel comfortable around animals. As well as this, Mugly regularly visits adults with learning difficulties and sensory loss and is a certified Pets As Therapy dog.
 
When he is not working with vulnerable adults and children, you will find Mugly raising money for numerous charities including Cinque Ports Rescue, Guide Dogs for the Blind, The Chinese Crested Club of GB Rescue and Many Tears Animal Rescue.
 
Owner Bev Nicholson, from Peterborough, said: “Mugly is a sweet, calm and sensitive dog who instantly knows how to behave in various situations. He amazes me with his ability to know exactly how to be when he meets people. With a blind person he stands completely still and lets them explore him, or when someone is upset he pushes his body into them for comfort.
 
“I could just burst with pride when a child bumps into us with their parents who are saying ‘don’t touch the dog’ and the child replies ‘oh that’s OK, that’s Mugly, he won’t hurt me, he helps me to read’.”
 
PetSafe® spokesperson Angela Critchley said: “It was incredibly difficult for us to choose this year’s Pet Hero – we received so many great entries about pets making a fantastic difference to the lives of their owners and local community.
 
“In the end it was Mugly’s story of overcoming his own differences to become a much loved local hero, who enriches the lives of so many vulnerable people, that touched us the most. We think both Mugly and Bev thoroughly deserve a break after all their hard work and we look forward to hearing about Mugly’s adventures in the future”.
 
As a reward for scooping PetSafe® Hero 2015 Mugly and owner Bev will now enjoy a stay with Sykes Pet Friendly Cottages and a year’s supply of pet products, worth over £1,000.

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Nutriment’s MD Is Recognised For Success In Creating RAW Brand 

Nutriment, a leading brand in the premium raw dog food (RAW) market trading for less than three years, has secured its third award in two months. After clinching two start-up awards, MD Suzanne Brock has won the 2015 NatWest everywoman Award in her company’s category.

Suzanne clinched the ‘Artemis Award– sponsored by Crystal Clear Skincare – for an inspirational woman who has been trading for between 18 months and three years.

Nutriment is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of premium quality raw pet food and Suzanne has grown Nutriment to a team of 30 full time staff with plans to expand further following the acquisition of a second premises.

The seven category award winners have been singled out from hundreds of nominations, judged by a panel of esteemed businesswomen including Cath Kidston MBE, Amanda Wakeley OBE and Higgidy founder Camilla Stephens amongst others. The event, held at the The Dorchester Hotel, was presented by Sky News’ Jayne Secker and attended by leading figures in business and politics including Specsavers founder Dame Mary Perkins, Caroline Dinage MP, Baroness Goudie and Baroness Verma.

While there are more women running businesses than ever in the UK, research from the University of Cambridge earlier this year found that female entrepreneurs were less inclined to highlight their achievements, despite generating higher profits than their male counterparts.*  With the combined annual turnover of the entrepreneur guests at the Awards estimated to be in excess of £3 billion, it has never been more important to champion successful enterprise and create role models for future generations.

The 2015 NatWest everywoman Award was presented to Ayesha Vardag, founder of London based law firm VARDAGS

It was only back in 2013 that single mum Suzanne and her mother had no alternative but to remortgage their respective houses in order to get their ‘pet’ Nutriment project off the ground when her local bank lost its nerve at the 11th hour, which she feels was a blessing in disguise in view of Nutriment’s subsequent success.

Suzanne said: “I learned early on to be very careful about whom I trusted, which has led to me being blessed with a close-knit team, whose never-say-die mindset and infectious energy have been at the very heart of Nutriment’s ongoing success.”

Nutriment is certainly no flash-in-the-pan operation with three successful range launches bedded down in 2015 and more ground-breaking initiatives ready to roll in 2016.

Suzanne added: “Yes there have certainly been times when I craved a bigger war chest to participate in such a competitive UK pet food marketplace, but in truth, it’s made me more disciplined with regards to which projects I prioritize and which I put on the backburner for a little longer.”

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RSPCA Video Shows Flood Teams Rescuing Pets 


The RSPCA has released footage taken by some of the charity’s flood rescue teams which have rescued animals and people across Cumbria and Northumberland in the aftermath of Storm Desmond.

So far, RSPCA flood rescue teams have rescued eight dogs, seven cats, four rabbits and three chickens.

The footage includes the rescue of a dog called Ronnie who was trapped in the upstairs of a flooded school in Carlisle, before he and his owners were evacuated through a window after RSPCA officers had waded through the building’s dark and flooded corridors to reach them.

The crews operating in Carlisle also worked alongside the emergency services and helped rescue an elderly man from a nursing home in the town, before he was transported on a stretcher by one of the RSPCA’s boats and taken to hospital.

Others rescued included a man and woman who were rescued through an upstairs window after their home was flooded during the storm.

A short compilation of the footage can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/1jM8pEW

The RSPCA has received calls about 88 flooding incidents since Friday (4.12.15). More than 20 flood trained officers travelled from across England and Wales to join their colleagues in Cumbria and Northumberland to assist the ongoing rescue operation.

The flood rescue teams have now stood down as the water levels begin to drop, although the RSPCA has been in contact with Trading Standards and the National Farmers’ Union and has offered to assist with any remaining stranded livestock.

Inspector Ben Strangwood, who has coordinated the RSPCA’s flood response, said: “I am extremely proud of the RSPCA flood rescue teams and that we have been able to help animals and people who have been affected by the floods.

“It has been a huge challenge as the flooding is so widespread across a large geographical area.

“We have received a lot of calls, mainly to help people who have had to leave their animals when they have evacuated their homes. However, we have also had to contend with extremely dangerous conditions and fast flowing water.”

With more rain forecast in some areas later this week owners of animals in areas at risk of flooding are advised to move them to higher ground or other areas of safety.

Members of the public are urged never to put their own or another person’s life in danger to attempt an animal rescue. Anyone who wishes to report an animal emergency can call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

The RSPCA’s full flood advice is available at http://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/seasonal/floods

The RSPCA can only carry out rescues and assist during the floods thanks to your help. Please text HELP to 78866 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

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