Smokey Paws’ Wants To Save Pets’ Lives In House Fires

PictureFirefighters Chris Bacon (left) and Paul Thompson (right) with Hendrix the dog, Lynn Carberry and Brian Lockyer from Smokey Paws.

Smokey Paws, a not-for-profit organization, is campaigning and fundraising to have all fire engines in the UK fitted with oxygen masks for pets to help prevent hundreds of deaths from smoke inhalation each year.

It is now appealing for companies and members of the public across the region to help raise funds to buy more pet oxygen masks.

Smokey Paws, which was set up in April by concerned dog owners Brian Lockyer and Lynn Carberry, fundraises to buy the oxygen masks from overseas, which come in a kit of three costing £90 in total for differently sized pets, ranging from large dogs to cats and small dogs and small furry pets.

Smokey Paws is aiming to have all 3, 550 fire engines in the UK kitted out with the pet oxygen masks. It is asking people to donate vital funds to help make this a reality via its website Smokey Paws has raised £4,500 since setting up in April and aims to raise £350,000 through a mixture of sponsorship and public donations.

Husband and wife Brian and Lynn, who are also full-time directors of a PLC, were moved to set up Smokey Paws after discussing their worries about leaving their pet Labrador home alone.

Founder of Smokey Paws Brian Lockyer explains: “My wife is American and she mentioned that the fire service in the US has pet oxygen masks fitted in their fire engines. We felt we needed to do something to help make that a reality here.

“Fire services are attending over 40,000 house fires a year and 46% of UK households now have pets. When there is a house fire, our much-loved pets are at great risk from smoke inhalation, which could lead to death if not treated effectively and quickly. 

“The fire service tries its hardest to revive pets using human oxygen masks, but these masks are designed for the use on humans and not animals. The pet oxygen masks are specifically designed for dogs, cats and smaller animals like rabbits, snakes and mice and therefore are more efficient than trying to use human masks.”

Chemicals released from burning materials include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and cyanide that can cause injuries and symptoms including breathing difficulties, increased respiratory rate, burns, swelling, inflammation of the mouth, eyes, skin, upper airway, coma, seizures and eye and skin burns.

The first fire brigade to be equipped with the oxygen masks was Avon Fire and Rescue Service. Station Manager Jon Brown said: “In the event of a fire in the home families with animals are always concerned about how their pets will get out of the property. Firefighters often have to enter premises to search for missing animals, which may have taken in smoke.

Often animals are affected by smoke quicker than humans so it is hoped the masks will save beloved pets during blazes.

Jon added: “We can be asked to search a smoke-filled house for an animal and when we find it, it may be unconscious and not breathing. This new equipment means we have special masks to use on dogs and cats, which may need oxygen. A few minutes can be the difference between life and death so the sooner we can give oxygen the better and this equipment allows us to do this.”

To donate, ask for sponsorship information, or to nominate your local fire brigade, please visit: or email [email protected].

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Win A Limited Edition Dogs Trust Ladies Walking Jacket


Here’s your chance to win a fabulous and very practical limited-edition ladies jacket from Mountain Warehouse, which has been specifically designed for dog owners.

Mountain Warehouse and Dogs Trust asked their customers and supporters exactly what they look for in a dog walking jacket and, using their feedback, have created the ultimate jacket for walking the dog, whatever the weather!

To enter please visit the following page:

Please note that entries will be accepted via the above page only and entries made on this blog’s comments section will not be counted. Full Ts&Cs on the Competition Page.

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Robo Pets Are No Match For The Real Thing!


By MARIE CARTER, Editor & Publisher of Pets Magazine

Anyone who has ever been responsible for a pet knows they give as good as they get in terms of unconditional love and devotion. This week, there’s been much talk of the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which has felt a bit like we’re on the cusp of a Terminator style future.

As well as the swathes of white collar jobs that are going to be swept away by the ‘machine revolution’, pets might also be replaced by the cold paw of progress.

Dr. Jean-Loup Rault of the University of Melbourne writing in a recent edition of Frontiers in Veterinary Science argues pets will soon become a luxury in an overpopulated world and we will be happy with cyber cats and dogs that mimic the real thing.

Dr Rault said in a written statement: “It might sound surreal for us to have robotic or virtual pets, but it could be totally normal for the next generation.” He continued: “It’s not a question of centuries from now. If 10 billion human beings live on the planet in 2050 as predicted, it’s likely to occur sooner than we think.”

Well I’m not sure about you, but I cannot ever foresee sentient creatures with their own unique personalities and beating hearts ever being replaced by cold robotic paws and silent chests.

Pets give people so much in terms of love and emotional support. Simply stroking a dog or cat can lead to lower blood pressure and can combat stress. Studies have also shown that looking a dog in the eyes can boost levels of oxytocin (a hormone involved in social bonding), in both the person and the dog. There is in fact nothing artificial that could ever replace that sheer authenticity of feeling.

I couldn’t put it more aptly than Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow who says: “Children especially learn so much from keeping animals and programmed affection is no substitute for the real two-way bond between a pet and its owner. It’s sad to think a lump of metal could take the place of a sentient being with a unique personality.”

There’s certainly no shortage of real cats and dogs looking for homes. There are literally thousands of abandoned pets in the UK alone.

Figures by the Dogs Trust, the country’s largest dog welfare charity, reveal there are more than 110,000 stray or abandoned dogs in the UK, with 21 dogs a day being put down by local authorities. So, if your heart is not necessarily set on a puppy, why not pay a visit to your local rescue centre? Both my parents and my brother have rescue dogs, a Lurcher and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, who are both the loveliest dogs you could imagine.

More than half of people in Western societies own a pet, according to Rault. As the population grows and becomes increasingly urban, he believes living and breathing companion animals are likely to become economically unsustainable for many people. Brazil, where 85% of people live in densely populated cities like Rio de Janiero, has more small dogs per capita than any other country in the world. According to research by Euromonitor, that’s because of Brazil’s growing middle class who most likely sees the acquisition of small dogs as a badge of their newfound wealth.

While it’s true that many still developing countries also have growing numbers of pets, it’s hardly democratic to insist that they should replace fur with metal. Why should people be deprived of the love and affection of a real pet? There is so much joy to be experienced in observing a pet dog or cat playing or running through a field after a ball or sunning themselves in the garden.

As intelligent human beings, we know that that authenticity of feeling can never be replaced by a ‘being’ made up of circuitry and metal, no matter how much artificial intelligence scientists manage to bestow on them. We’ve had ill-fated forays already into the world of robo pets. Remember the initial cult appeal of the Tamagotchi? The virtual pet’s designers thought that owners would form a relationship with the ‘pet’ that could overcome its virtual appearance. In the end, most people let their cyber pet die; in many cases, just to see what would happen. In the absence of psychopathy, most people would of course never wish to deliberately neglect their living and breathing pet to see what happened.

However, Rault argues that robo-pet technology will soon be sophisticated enough to meet our emotional needs. “When engineers work on robotic dogs, they work on social intelligence, they address what people need from their dogs: companionship, love, obedience, dependence,” he commented.

It’s true that Japan in particular is forging ahead in the realm of robotics. Scientists specializing in artificial intelligence are making meaningful breakthroughs in creating robots that literally have minds of their own. Cyber humans will, it is predicted, increasingly take our jobs. This all seems like the start of a plot of some dystopian movie; a world populated by cyber people and their cyber pets. If Rault and his ilk are to have their way, that’s the nightmarish future that may well play itself out.

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PDSA Goes From Dog Walk To Cat Walk

PictureFormer Clothes Show presenter Tim Vincent with models Rebecca Pearson and Danielle Zarb-Cousin

Animal lover and former BBC Clothes Show host Tim Vincent is on a mission to highlight the rare fashion gems available at charity shops ahead of London Fashion Week.

The NBC Access Hollywood presenter, who is a huge dog lover, paid a visit to PDSA’s West Ealing shop in London to launch the vet charity’s #DogWalk2CatWalk campaign.

“Visit your local PDSA charity shop and you could find great outfits and bargains you won’t see on the high street,” said Tim.

It comes as research by PDSA has revealed that nearly a third of UK adults* believe charity shops are a great place to pick up ‘hidden gems’ such as retro clothing, shoes and accessories.

The poll, produced in conjunction with TNS, also found that charity shops are a great place to pick up a bargain, according to nearly half of us (45%), while 59% also enjoy the fact they are supporting a good cause.

Former Blue Peter presenter Tim posed with models Rebecca Pearson and Danielle Zarb-Cousin as well as dogs Rocky and Lulu – to showcase the variety of clothing on offer at PDSA shops. Goods range from high end fashion items to vintage and high street trends.

Tim said: “I’m really excited about this fantastic campaign. It’s great to see the variety of clothing you can pick up from a PDSA shop. It ranges from casual clothes to walk your dog to getting catwalk ready for a night out.

“I’m a huge animal lover and by purchasing items from a PDSA shop, not only are you getting your fashion fix but you could help save a pet’s life.”

Philip Klette, PDSA’s Head of Retail, said that PDSA shops are a great alternative to the high street.

He said: “Many people are unaware of the amazing clothes and accessories you can snap up from a charity shop, often for a lot cheaper than on the high street.

“We also find that a lot of our customers enjoy creating their own individual look which is particularly appropriate around London Fashion Week.”

PDSA shops raise millions to support the vital work of PDSA pet hospitals. To join in the fun on social media people are being urged to share photos of themselves strutting their stuff with their pet using the hashtag #DogWalk2CatWalk

To find out how you can help and to locate your nearest PDSA shop visit

Join in the conversation on social media #DogWalk2CatWalk

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Ahh Bisto The Dog Raises £50k For Sick Pets


PDSA Vet Hannah McIvor with Bisto, owner Marjorie and Julie Gillespie, PDSA fundraiser

A little dog from Glasgow, who is soon to reach her own landmark 20th birthday, has been heralded crème of the fundraising crop by vet charity PDSA, after she helped raise over £48,000 for poorly pets in the area.

Bisto the crossbreed from Bearsden in Glasgow, who will reach the grand old age of 20 years in October, received a special award from vets at the charity for her fundraising work in the city over the past ten years.

Bisto started fundraising for PDSA when she stayed with dog sitter and long-term PDSA supporter, Julie Gillespie.

Julie, 83, from East Kilbride, said: “I was minding Bisto for her owner Muriel while she was on her summer holiday and had planned to do some fundraising with the group at Glasgow Central. Not wanting to leave Bisto alone, I brought her with me and our takings doubled!

“She is a real people dog – everyone is so drawn to her – they can’t resist those puppy dog eyes! We get so many people coming over to say hello to her when we are in the station and more often than not, they stick a few pence in our bucket for the privilege!

“Because Bisto was such a hit and she enjoyed it so much, we decided to make her a regular attraction whenever we fundraised at the station and ten years on, she is still going strong!”

The fundraising group says that with Bisto’s help, they netted an average of £600 in one day for the charity, which has two Pet Hospitals in the city, treating over 300 pets every day.

Vet Hannah McIvor from PDSA’s Glasgow Shamrock Street Pet Hosptial, presented Bisto with her award. She said: “Bisto has made an outstanding contribution to PDSA and has raised a staggering amount of money for poorly pets locally. It costs over £2.3 million to run our two hospitals each year, so the work of the fundraising group is vital to making sure that we can continue to provide our service to the pets that need it most.”

PDSA fundraiser Brenda Smith, said: “Bisto is a hairy fundraising hero and has helped the Glasgow team raise almost £50,000 for poorly pets. We are so proud of her and wish her a very happy 20th Birthday – that’s 140 in dog years!”

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity and has 51 Pet Hospitals across the UK, treating over 470,000 pets a year.

To find out how you can fundraise for PDSA, visit or call Brenda on 01952 797 224.

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Europe’s ‘First Of Its Kind’ Cancer Hospital For Animals Opens Its Doors 


Europe’s first specialist hospital for animals suffering from cancer has been opened in Surrey this week by Professor Noel Fitzpatrick (C4’s Supervet), Top Gear’s Chris Evans and entrepreneur Professor Sir Chris Evans.

Fitzpatrick Referrals Oncology and Soft Tissue Centre will change the way cancer is treated in animals and raise the standard of cancer treatment and care. The state-of-the-art centre is modelled on the Mayo Clinic, the world’s leading human hospital.

After trauma, cancer is the biggest killer of companion animals, half of dogs and a third of cats over 10 years old will die of cancer yet remarkably this hospital will represent a first for Europe.

The new hospital, which is located at the Surrey Research Park in Guildford, Surrey, is unique for many reasons:

1. It is  the ONLY cancer hospital of its kind, custom built to meet all of the needs of the cancer patients and their owners i.e. not just the state of the art facilities and equipment usually found in human hospitals but also the high degree of pastoral and clinical care which will create new milestones in the industry.

2. The expertise on site is unparalleled.  It is  the first animal hospital in Europe to bring together world class medical and surgical oncologists with extensive experience in advanced radiation procedures and the best nursing teams, in order to gain a better understanding of animal cancer and to use that knowledge to deliver the very best treatment to animals

(As examples: Professor  Nick Bacon is one of only two people in Europe to have completed a Fellowship in Surgical Oncology and Doctor Kelvin Kow is the only oncologist in Europe who has completed a Fellowship in Medical Oncology)

3. It will have a constant focus on evidence based teaching and training which for a private animal hospital is unique.

4.  The hospital will be undertaking clinical research at the coal face of clinical practice in collaboration with multiple human clinical partnerships sharing expertise and learning for the good of both humans and animals – also completely unique.

Noel Fitzpatrick, Founder, Owner and Chairman of Fitzpatrick Referrals, MD of Fitzpatrick Referrals Oncology and Soft Tissue says: “Whilst this building will impress and contain the latest equipment, it is the team of people inside that makes it truly outstanding. We aim to deliver all of the options to all of the animals all of the time. We will also work with our human colleagues to better inform the treatment of human cancer; after all a cancer cell doesn’t care if you are an animal or human; most human and animal cancers are very similar and we share many of the same diseases.

“In this way we will bring new ideas to define the treatments of the future.  With Fitzpatrick Referrals Orthopaedics and Neurology, we will also be the only centre in Europe offering custom-designed 3D-printed limb and joint salvage prostheses.”

The launch also heralds the 10th Anniversary of the independently owned practice behind the new animal hospital, Fitzpatrick Referrals.  Fitzpatrick Referrals is the renowned leading Orthopaedic and Neurological referral, animal hospital with an unbeatable track record in innovation and compassion.  This new cancer hospital is the realisation of a long held dream for Professor Noel Fitzpatrick who has brought together some truly dedicated individuals delivering world class medicine with a proud and unwavering care ethos.

Professor Nick Bacon continues: “This is also not just about the animal but recognising the impact on the pet owners, involving the local vet and building a cohesive care team together with a group of different specialists that work synergistically. A tumour conference will take place each week with all specialists in attendance to review each and every animal patient, so that we can truly deliver the very best consensus view on the route forward. This is what most people would also want if they have cancer themselves. Professionally, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I haven’t heard of anything of this magnitude, even in the US.”

Noel adds: “Whilst we want to inspire and deliver the most innovative and advanced ‘traditional’ model of care, don’t be surprised if some things never change, for example, our deep love for our animal patients whom we treat as our own – written on the glass kennel doors, which we introduced for the first time in the UK ten years ago, you’re still just as likely to still see ‘likes ear scratches and cuddles’ alongside the clinicians chemo care brief!”

Fitzpatrick Referrals has long been a thought-leader and game-changer in the provision of specialised small animal veterinary services, challenging the accepted norms in all aspects of small animal care. The launch of this special hospital is no exception. 

Professor Stuart Carmichael explains: “We are going to work hard to bring other veterinary practitioners and students on the journey with us, to change the delivery of veterinary cancer care forever and by working on improving early diagnosis and detection and by offering training and education we’ll bring veterinary oncology into the 21st century for all animals and their families.

“We are learning that many pets can live with cancer, sometimes the simplest treatments can be the most effective, so we want to offer the owners all of the options to help provide quality of life and keep their pets happy.  We want to limit the number of people who hear that that their pet has cancer and there is nothing that can be done. In short, we are about understanding cancers, treating them in the most effective ways possible and using our knowledge to inform the future for all animals everywhere.”

Doctor Laurent Findji  adds: This hospital is perfectly positioned for success in so many ways: it is surrounded by research and technology businesses, it is close to the Veterinary School, also the human medical oncologists at the Royal Surrey Country Hospital and all resources are united behind the same vision.

“Most importantly, this cancer hospital will be independent and family-owned which gives flexibility and agility and it will be built on the successful cornerstones of the Fitzpatrick Referrals values of innovation, integrity, care, education and community.”

For more information:

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‘Best Pet’ Sully Immortalised In LEGO

PictureThe Harvey family with Sully and his LEGO alter ego

A Sprocker Spaniel was officially declared the UK’s best pet when he came nose to nose with his perfect LEGO double at the LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort today. 

One year old Sully was voted the nation’s top dog for helping a family deal with life changing tragedy and was nominated by eight year old Ella Harvey.
Sully was joined by his owners, The Harvey Family, who credit their dog with bringing them closer together after dad, Gavin, lost both legs on a tour of duty in Afghanistan.    The canine topped a nationwide search to find the country’s best pet friend and Ella was overjoyed to see her puppy pal honoured with his very own LEGO model in the LEGO Friends Heartlake City area of the world famous destination.
Ella’s mum Kerry explained how Sully has helped The Harvey’s over some dark times. “There’s so much physically that we cannot do as a family since Gavin was injured and Sully helps us bridge that activity gap.   

“In fact, that’s really the reason we got him.   But as well as keeping us active he’s forged a very special relationship with Ella.  They truly are best friends and when we do have down days, as we still do, he brightens things up for Ella and her little sister Millie.    They are both crazy for animals AND massive LEGO Friends fans so for Sully to be made in LEGO for the LEGO Friends area is beyond exciting for them!”

The playful spaniel took a keen interest in his LEGO double, which took a Model Maker 11 days to create from 6,255 individual bricks.  The 67cm tall model mirrors Sully’s unique brown and white markings including a distinctive heart shaped patch on his back. The model will now take up residence in the new LEGO Friends Heartlake City area at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort.
The LEGOLAND Windsor Resort’s search for the nation’s best pet friend came off the back of a survey* revealing that one in six children said their animals were better friends than their human besties and Sully and Ella’s story struck a chord.  “We asked the public to pick which pet deserved the title from a shortlist and Sully won hands down’, said PR Manager at the Resort, Lauren Moss.   

“We know that children do have very special relationships with their pets, and that’s something we celebrate in our LEGO Friends area.  We are delighted Sully will now take pride of place amongst the other LEGO pets in Heartlake City – he truly deserves it.”

Sully joins a lineup of LEGO models, including LEGO Friends pets Bella the pony, Felix the cat and Coco the puppy in the dedicated area which opened in May.

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Abandoned Terrapin Found Alive After 25 Years In Wild


A terrapin dumped in the 1990s as an unwanted pet following the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ film has amazed wildlife experts after surviving in a UK pond – for 25 YEARS.

Yellow-bellied slider turtles are native to southern America where they can usually be found among the swamps and marshes of the Florida Everglades and west Virginia.

But one of the exotic reptiles was recently spotted by local residents emerging from the waters at a wildlife reserve in Wollaton, in Nottingham.

The turtle was spotted by a dog walker on Sunday (19/7) and the sighting has stunned experts after it managed to survive in UK waters for almost three decades.

Howard Brown, 44, was walking his black Labrador, Bessie with his nine-year-old son, Harvey when they spotted the foot-long creature and managed to picture it on a rock.

Yesterday (Tue)  the chef, from Nottingham, said: “Id heard rumours of a turtle over the years, but then all talk stopped and they said it had disappeared.

I walk Bessie round there most days, so I started to take my camera to see if I could spot the turtle.

Then I was there with my son at the weekend and I zoomed in on a rock in the middle of the pond and saw the yellow-bellied slider right there.

I pointed him out, but no-one believed me until they zoomed in with my camera and they said You are joking.

You cant see him unless you know hes there, but now everyones talking about him.

People used to get them as pets in the 1990s because of the TV show, but then as they grow they take up too much space so they dump them.

He looks very happy there, so he may as well stay  so long as no-one turns him into soup.”

Terrapins became a popular pet in Britain during the original Ninja Turtles craze in the 1980s and 1990s but were often dumped once they grew too big.

Reptile experts believe the same could have happened in this case as judging by the reptile’s size it is around 25 years old.

Matt Oldham, who owns Nottingham Reptile Centre in Sherwood, Notts., said: Ive been working with reptiles for 14 years.

“When the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film came out in 2014 there were a lot more people coming in asking for turtles.

The same was definitely true after the 1990 film, as that caused even more excitement.
The problem with turtles, especially the yellow-bellied slider, is that after about three years they get very big and need a lot of attention, so people cant afford to keep them.

You have to clean them out once a week, have a big external filter, and put them in six foot tanks.

So instead of spending all that money people get rid of them.

I think its entirely fair to assume this turtle was dumped there by someone who bought him after seeing the 1990 film, as judging by his size he is around 25-years-old.

“Pet shops don’t sell them full size so he must have been bought as a young pet and dumped. It would be highly unlikely that it has escaped or been purchased full size.”

Mr Oldham said it was amazing to think the turtle could have survived in UK waters for so long because the climate would usually be too cold for them.

He added:They’ll never thrive here because our climate is too cool for them.

Although this type of turtle is from a much warmer climate, they can hibernate if they need to.

But the summer is too short and the winter too long for them to be able to do it properly in the UK, so they would usually only live for five or ten years here.

To live for over 25 years in a Nottingham pond is amazing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was originally a cartoon show that catapulted to fame in 1990 after the comic-book characters starred in their own movie, which made over #200 million at the box office worldwide.

A reboot of the film directed by Michael Bay was released last year and a sequel is expected in June 2016.

The RSPCA said popular movies push up demand for unusual pets – such as owls bought following the Harry Potter films to “wolf-type” dogs inspired by the Twilight films and Game Of Thrones series.

Yesterday (Tue) senior scientific officer for the RSPCA, Nicola White, said: Many people bought turtles in the late 80s when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were popular.

“This led to a large number of unwanted terrapins being abandoned when they grew too large or were more difficult to look after than expected.

“We are bracing ourselves for a similar trend once again.

“Sadly many owners who buy exotic pets on impulse after seeing a film or TV show dont find out how to care for the animals first.

“When they then realise how much space and care the animal requires they can lose interest, or feel unable to care for them anymore.

“As a result  exotic pets are often abandoned, given up to animal rescue centres or released into the wild.

Terrapins are complicated animals to care for and can also carry bacteria such as Salmonella.

“We would discourage anyone from buying any pet on a whim and strongly urge people to think carefully first before buying an exotic pet.

“Releasing unwanted exotic pets into the wild is cruel and illegal.

“Most exotic pets are unlikely to be able to survive in the wild in Britain and non-native species could pose a serious threat to our native wildlife.”

It is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to release, or to allow to escape, any species that are not normally native to the UK.

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Heat-wave Pooch Saved Thanks To Swift Help

PicturePDSA veterinary nurse Tina Scrafton with Mitsy

Yorkshire Terrier Mitsy, from Pennywell in Sunderland, was saved after suffering a near-fatal windpipe collapse during the summer heatwave. 

Owner Sue Richardson (49) had taken her two dogs Mitsy (9) and Molly (11) to PetCheck – an event run by vet charity PDSA, which provides free wellbeing MOTs and microchipping for dogs.

While waiting for her appointment, Sue took her two dogs for a short walk around nearby Barnes Park. Suddenly Mitsy started suffering severe breathing difficulties so Sue took her straight back to the PetCheck vehicle.

PDSA Vet Nurse Tina Scrafton, who was on the PetCheck vehicle at the time, said: “I was alerted to a dog in distress outside and went straight out to take a look. It was immediately clear how serious Mitsy’s situation was – she couldn’t breathe and her tongue was turning blue.”

As there are no treatment facilities on the PetCheck vehicle, Sue and her dogs were taken straight to nearby Kings Road vet practice, where Mitsy was rushed to emergency care. Sue said “I was terrified for Mitsy, she was gasping for breath and it sounded like something was blocking her throat. The vet said it was a tracheal collapse, when the airway closes in on itself, and it was 50/50 as to whether she would survive. I was heartbroken.

“Thankfully after a few hours of treatment she was well enough to come home, but we had to keep a very close eye on her. We didn’t get much sleep that night! Mitsy has now completely recovered from this episode, and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped her. I also want to do all I can to make other owners aware of what to do if this ever happens to their dogs.”

PDSA nurse Tina advised: “Tracheal collapse isn’t seen very frequently, but it is more prevalent in small ‘toy’ breeds of dog, particularly as they get older.  It is caused by weaknesses or defects in the cartilage that holds the windpipe open. Hot weather can exacerbate the condition, which is what brought about Mitsy’s sudden attack.

“It’s important for owners to be aware of the signs of tracheal collapse, which include a severe “honking” cough and difficulty exercising. In extreme cases the airway can collapse completely causing the brain to be starved of oxygen, which is why Mitsy’s tongue was turning blue. If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, contact your vet straight away.”

PDSA also provides advice for owners on keeping their pets safe during hot weather, including avoiding taking dogs out during the middle of the day and providing constant access to shade and fresh water.

PDSA’s PetCheck tour visits hundreds of locations across the UK from March to October every year. The vet nurses provide free dog wellbeing MOTs and microchipping, but thankfully most events don’t involve emergencies like Mitsy’s. More information about the PetCheck tour is available on PDSA’s website,

About PDSA’s PetCheck vehicles

PDSA’s two custom-designed PetCheck vehicles have been kindly donated to the charity by benefactors Julie and Robert Breckman. The vehicles are named after Robert and his late wife Julie, whose love of animals and support of PDSA has helped to make the PetCheck tour a reality.

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British Couples Putting Off Parenting In Favour Of Pets

PictureLisa Graham, 34, and Phil Hall, 35, from Caterham, Surrey

Three in ten couples are putting off parenting and getting a pet instead, a study has found. 
Couples in Britain are delaying parenthood and choosing to raise a pet before they become parents. 
The most popular pet young couples are nurturing their parenting skills on are dogs. 
And more than a third of those who choose to raise man’s best friend said the reason for this was they “wanted a proper companion that stayed with them 24/7”.
The study of 2,000 Brits was commissioned by Blue Cross to highlight the part pets play in our lives and raise awareness of the huge responsibility pet ownership brings.  
Hannah Wiltshire, Rehoming and Advice Manager at Blue Cross, said:  “This is Generation Pet.  Pets are seen as a part of the family, so much so that people are choosing to get them before or instead of having kids.
“Taking on a new pet is a massive responsibility that costs time and money – so not too dissimilar to having children.
“Such is the time and commitment needed that for many animal lovers it’s often the first thing they think about when settling down together and starting a family. 
“Owning a pet can give people an insight into the amount of responsibility caring for a dependent , so it’s not surprising that some animal lovers end up seeing  a pet as a trial run for a family.
“But make sure your family can care for that pet well into its future, even when the patter of tiny feet come along.” 
The most popular breed of dog Brits are choosing to develop their abilities to be responsible on were Labradors. 
They also look to practice their parenting skills on Golden Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels before having their first child.
Cats were also popular pets, but worryingly almost one in five mistakenly believed they were perfect because they “wanted something easy to look after.”
Over 60 per cent of Brits agreed that getting a dog or other pet before having children gets you into the right mind-set of being a parent. 
Many believe they will have more patience and half of respondents think it will allow them to take responsibility more seriously. 
Those who did choose to look after a pet before becoming a parent proved these theories right as they felt they became more responsible after owning a pet.
And more than a quarter said they loved looking after their pet together so they knew having a child would be a good idea. 
Although almost one in ten said the practice run made them realise they weren’t with the right person to be having children with so they looked after the pet by themselves. 
It has been previously reported that many Brits are postponing parenthood until their 30s, and 70 per cent of survey respondents have agreed that putting off parenting and getting a pet instead is becoming more popular amongst young couples. 
According to the research owning a pet before having a child has proved successful for many families as over half now feel excited at the prospect of having a child in the future. 
Hannah added: “Blue Cross rehomes thousands of pets every year. 
“Caring for a pet can fulfil maternal and paternal instincts, both for those who don’t want or can’t have children, or for those who perhaps want to have kids later in life. 
“However there are lots of important things to consider when taking on a pet and Blue Cross is there to help.”
To find out more about rehoming a Blue Cross pet or for advice on pet care, visit


Lisa Graham, 34, and Phil Hall, 35, from Caterham, Surrey

Pet: Mary, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier/Labrador cross puppy.
Lisa  said: “We adopted Mary from Blue Cross and she’s adorable. I definitely wanted to get a dog before I even contemplated having children. 
“I’m just not ready yet for the commitment and investment children require – I still want to go on nice holidays and am happy in my job, plus I love the lifestyle that owning a dog brings. 
“I’ve never been particularly broody for kids but I’ve been dog broody for years. Now we’re in a situation where one of us works from home and I can take a dog into work, so it was the perfect time to take home a pooch. 
“Adopting Mary has made our house and home, and maybe in the future we will have kids, but at the moment we are very content with our little family.”

Adam Catling, 26, and wife and Sophia, 25, Cambridge

Pet: Cat – Chilli 

Adam said: “We have been together for seven years. Shortly after we moved in together we decided a pet would really make the house a home and would be a wonderful addition to our family. 
“We definitely wanted to get a pet before we have children. We weren’t ready for children at the time, but wanted to have a little family, so adopting a cat seemed like the perfect idea and now we can’t imagine our home without Chilli. 
“We’re sure there are many people who have pets instead of children particularly if they are unable to have children or do not feel ready.
“These days many people have children much later in life because they are focussing on their careers, but getting a pet in the meantime still makes you feel like you’ve started a small family and gives you the opportunity to care for and look after something.”

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