Owner of Diabetic Dog Calls on Other Diabetic Pet Owners to Choose Proper Treatment

Diabetes sufferer: Lottie

The owner of a diabetic dog has appealed to other animal owners not to give up on their pets after research revealed 1 out of 10 diabetic pets are put down at diagnosis.

Rebecca South, 40, from South Yorkshire, a Senior Account Manager at MSD Animal Health, has been managing her 16-year-old terrier Lottie’s diabetes since she was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 10 in 2012. Lottie has since been kept under close supervision with a managed diet and insulin and is otherwise a healthy, happy dog.

Recent findings from the Big Pet Diabetes Survey (Neissen et al, 2017) have revealed more than 10 per cent of diabetic cats and dogs are euthanised at diagnosis, despite the fact that they can live normal, healthy lives – and some diabetic cats can even achieve remission.

Rebecca is sharing Lottie’s story as part of MSD Animal Health’s Pet Diabetes Month, in a bid to inform other pet owners that their animals can go on to live happy lives following a diabetes diagnosis, whilst also urging pet owners to check in with their vet if they spot any signs of diabetes, including weight loss despite increased appetite, excessive thirst, vomiting or lethargy.

Rebecca said: “When Lottie was diagnosed with diabetes the vet advised me that she would need some lifestyle changes and insulin treatment for the rest of her life.  If I chose not to treat her, the condition would rapidly progress and I would have to put her to sleep. The thought of putting Lottie down just wasn’t an option. She is an important member of the family, and I wanted to do everything I could to keep her with us.

“Six years on, and managing Lottie’s diabetes is second nature. In fact, very quickly we got into a routine and it is normal for us now. She has twice daily feeds with a specialised diabetic diet, followed by twice daily injections of insulin with a pen.

“It does sometimes take more organisation than with a non-diabetic dog, as they have to be fed and dosed at roughly the same time every day. A few of us in my household know how to use the insulin pen, so if I’m not at home, we are able to be consistent with her treatment. She has a check up with her vet every six months and sometimes a blood test to check she is still stable and I monitor her at home for the signs that she may be becoming unstable. Consistency with diet, medication and exercise is the key to a happy, stable diabetic.”

According to Blaise Scott-Morris MRCVS, MSD Animal Health’s vet advisor for diabetes, further education is needed amongst pet owners to raise awareness of diabetes in pets and the importance of an early diagnosis to achieve better treatment.

She said: “Rebecca and Lottie’s story proves that pets can go on to live a fulfilling life after a diabetes diagnosis. To help ensure the long-term health and well-being of our diabetic pets, successfully managing the various facets of the disease and treatments is critical.  

Often animals are put to sleep as owners don’t feel they can cope with the medical side of injecting their animal every day. There are ways to make this much more manageable for clients, including the use of insulin pens similar to those used in the treatment of human diabetes.

“While 90 per cent of humans use an insulin pen to facilitate insulin injection, less than 20 per cent of diabetic pets are treated in the same way, which indicates an opportunity to improve pet diabetes management.

“MSD Animal Health has also launched a Pet Diabetes Tracker app to make the disease far easier to manage for pet owners.  It’s an incredibly useful tool that enables owners to use a smartphone or tablet to track water and food consumption, exercise levels, glucose levels and insulin injections.  It also allows reminders to be set for vet appointments and medication timings, providing charts and trends that owners can share with their vet. Blaise is urging pet owners to check in with their vet if they spot any signs of diabetes, including weight loss despite increased appetite, excessive thirst, vomiting or lethargy.

She added: “We will hopefully see an increase in the number of owners opting for treatment and a drop in the number of unnecessary euthanasia cases if we can succeed in educating pet owners about pet diabetes management.”

To find out more about Pet Diabetes Month, visit www.petdiabetesmonth.co.uk

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Turtle Doves of the Twelve days of Christmas Facing Extinction

  • Turtle doves bird ‘most likely’ to go extinct in Britain in the next few decades
  • Fewer than 5,000 turtle doves left in UK compared to 250,000 in the 1960s
  • Turtle dove population increasing at Knepp Castle Estate, in due to extensive rewilding project as detailed in Isabella Tree’s Wilding
  • Knepp ‘has more turtle doves on 3,500 hectares than National Trust does on 250,000 hectares’

Millions of this people this Christmas will sing about the ‘two turtle doves my true love gave to me’ in the carol ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ – yet most Britons have never heard a real-life turtle dove, and potentially never will.

According to the RSPB , turtle doves are the species of bird most likely to go extinct from our shores in the next couple of decades. In the 1960s there were 250,000 turtles doves in Britain; in 2018 there are fewer than 5,000.

There are two main reasons for their catastrophic decline. Firstly, the loss of the thorny scrub that is their habitat, due to the agricultural transformation of the British countryside since World War Two; and secondly, widespread intolerance for the so-called ‘arable weeds’- i.e. native wildflowers – which are the main source of food for the birds.

But West Sussex’s Knepp Castle Estate the subject of Isabella Tree’s best-selling book Wilding, is bucking the trend. Formerly a working farm, Isabella and her husband Charlie Burrell have turned the estate into the largest rewilding project in lowland Britain, using free-roaming grazing animals to create new habitats for wildlife.

There were no turtle doves to be found at Knepp at all from 1940s until the year 2000, during the period when it was under intensive farming. In the summer of 2018, 18 singing male turtle doves were recorded on site, which indicates that there may have been as many as 30 turtles doves or more (turtle doves are shy and incredibly difficult to spot, so the distinct ‘turr-turr-ing’ call of the males is the best way of identifying numbers).

Knepp is quite likely to be the only place in Britain where numbers of turtle doves are actually rising. According to Matthew Oates, Nature Specialist at the National Trust, Knepp probably has more turtle doves on its 3,500 acres than the National Trust does on 250,000 hectares. The presence of fledglings at Knepp also suggests that the turtle doves are beginning to breed there.

Isabella Tree, author of Wilding and co-owner of Knepp Castle Estate :“The reason turtle doves have been drawn to Knepp is because our rewilding project is providing them with the thorny scrub they like to nest in away from predators, as well as plenty of clean water ponds and an abundance of their food source of native seed-bearing wildflowers.

“I think this is a clear sign that there is hope for the turtle dove in the UK. If Knepp  – 44 miles from central London, under the Gatwick stacking system, on land that was virtually a biological desert before the year 2000 – can bring back turtle doves, then anywhere can.

“If only we can roll out the concept of rewilding to allow ourselves to embrace a wilder landscape, we could bring turtle doves back from the brink, and at Christmas sing of a bird that is a living part of our culture once again, rather than a lost icon of the past.”

An extract from Isabella Tree’s Wilding:

For most people our age, born in the 1960s, who have grown up in the English countryside, turtle doves are the sound of summer. Their companionable crooning is lodged forever, somewhere deep in my subconscious. But this nostalgia, I realize, is lost to generations younger than ours. In the 1960s there were an estimated 250,000 turtle doves in Britain. Today there are fewer than 5,000.

At the present rate of decline, by 2050 there could be fewer than 50 pairs, and from there it would be a hair’s breadth to extinction as a breeding species in Britain. Now, at Christmas, when we sing of the gifts my true love gave to me, few carollers have ever heard a turtle dove, let alone seen one. The significance of its name, derived from the lovely Latin turtur (nothing to do with the reptile; all to do with its seductive purring), is lost to us. The symbolism of ‘turtles’, their pair-bonding an allegory of marital tenderness and devotion, their mournful turr-turr-ing the song of love lost, the stuff of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Spenser, is vanishing into the kingdom of phoenixes and unicorns.

Wilding (Picador, £20) by Isabella Tree is available now from all good bookstores.

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18-year-old Cat Finds Retirement Home With Kent Couple

A blind, senior cat who has reached the grand old age of 126-YEARS-OLD in human years has finally found a home to spend her retirement.

At 18-years-old and completely blind, black cat Isabella spent months in RSPCA care patiently waiting for her forever home.

The Golden Oldie had become a firm favourite at the RSPCA Thanet branch where she spent her days in reception meeting and greeting visitors and welcoming new animals to the centre.

Unknown to Isabella herself, her search for a home had given her national (and even international) exposure, as the plight of this senior cat touched many hearts.

Now Isabella has finally found her retirement home with retired couple Brenda and Terry Faulkner Wood.

The couple from Sittingbourne adopted Isabella in July after falling in love with the older puss.

Brenda, 67, said: “Our cat Kitty who we’d had for 14 years, was 16 years old when she got a lump on her throat. She wasn’t able to swallow very well so we had to have her put to sleep. It just wasn’t right here without a cat so I searched on the RSPCA website and saw Isabella. I thought she would be ideal and we wanted to have another older cat. We have room in our home and our hearts for an older lady.”

The couple also have an older dog and a senior horse so they really are proving that age is just a number.

Brenda added: “My husband has dementia and he loves having Isabella sit on his lap. She is a great companion to both of us and she fits in well with the rest of us older lot!”

Lady Isabella, as she is known in their household, has settled in well and is getting braver all the time.

Brenda added: “She’s absolutely fine. As time goes on she gets a bit braver. Even without her sight, she knows the bedroom really well so she mostly sticks to that room but she will come out to the hallway on her own. We also bring her out in the living room in the evenings and she sits with us.

“When the weather is nice we take her out into the garden for some fresh air. The first time we did it we couldn’t believe it, she can really move when she wants to. She gave us a fright! She hadn’t gone far but much further than I had expected her to.”

The couple also adopted a young six month old kitten called Merlin shortly after bringing Isabella home with them. Brenda explained that the pair get along very well but Isabella is the boss and puts young Merlin in his place if he gets too playful.

“Isabella always knows when Merlin is there even before he gets near her basket.” Brenda explained. “She’s listening and sniffing. It seems like all her other senses are much better to make up for her sight.”

Isabella came into RSPCA care in April as her owner sadly passed away and although a family member took her in, unfortunately their circumstances changed unexpectedly which meant they were unable to keep Isabella anymore, so they asked the RSPCA for help.

With Isabella being blind and having high blood pressure, the branch were keen to find the perfect home for her where she could spend her retirement days.

On average it takes a cat aged seven years or older 38 days to rehome. This is compared to just 13 days for a kitten under six months old.

Emily Mayer, deputy manager at the RSPCA Thanet branch said: “We are so pleased that Isabella has a nice home to spend her twilight years. She’s such a special cat and everyone who met her fell in love with her. Despite being a Golden Oldie, she has plenty of personality. Brenda and Terry call her Lady Isabella, which says it all!

“We would always encourage people to consider adopting a senior cat, they may be older but they still have so much love to give.”

To rehome any of the cats in RSPCA care visit www.rspca.org.uk/findapet

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website.


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Councils Need More Funds Or Animals Could Suffer, Warns RSPCA

The RSPCA is warning that animals could suffer as councils are being expected to deliver more welfare work with no extra money.

Cash-strapped councils are legally obliged to run stray dog services, care for pets belonging to owners in hospital, ensure pets shops and kennels are properly licensed, and protect animals from environmental health and noise issues. More recently they were also tasked to tackle problems with fly-grazed horses and will soon be expected to enforce even stricter conditions on an even bigger range of animal establishments but with no extra funding.

Rachel Williams, senior parliamentary advisor are the RSPCA said: “Councils are under increasing pressure from budget cuts, and, sadly, animal services are often the first to be affected.”

There is no sign that demand for these services is reducing and if anything councils are being asked to do more crucial animal welfare work – with no extra funding.

“We are already seeing the impact of this in the number of services being cut or outsourced, the number of previously specialist animal welfare staff being given ever wider remits and, in the most extreme cases, some local authorities abandoning aspects of animal welfare provision altogether.

“We’re concerned that councils need more funds or animals could suffer. Everyone involved, at all levels of government, must start to recognise and value the work of the hardworking staff involved in protecting animal welfare.”

An RSPCA report – Ten Ideas in 10 Years – is released today as the charity recognises local authorities for pioneering initiatives to improve animal welfare through its PawPrints Awards.

The RSPCA’s report features the 10 best examples of ideas that have won the charity’s prestigious Innovator in Animal Welfare Award in the last ten years since the RSPCA PawPrints awards were created  – innovation that makes a real and lasting improvement to animal welfare without placing a huge financial burden on the cash-strapped organisations who are delivering them.

The 10 ideas:

1 Multi-agency working

2 Protecting equine welfare and tackling fly-grazing

3 Promoting responsible dog ownership

4 Ensuring the welfare of dogs in kennels

5 Tackling the illegal pet trade

6 Ensuring animals are not forgotten in contingency planning

7 Protecting the welfare of pets in housing

8 Protecting vulnerable people – and their animals

9 Enforcement, education and prevention

10 Protecting farm animal welfare

Rachel Williams added: “The work that local authorities, housing providers, contingency planners, the police and other public sector organisations do to protect and improve animal welfare is absolutely vital and should be recognised and celebrated.

“However we feel there needs to be political will from elected representatives to stop animal welfare services from being sacrificed when budgets are tight or tightened further, and crucially, there needs to be more money, more guidance and more support from national governments to help protect animal welfare services and dedicated animal welfare staff.”

The report released by the RSPCA marks the 10th anniversary of the charity’s PawPrints Awards, and highlights the ten most outstanding initiatives it has seen over the last decade that has helped improve animal welfare.

This RSPCA celebrated the 10th anniversary of its PawPrints Awards this evening at a special ceremony in London. As well as celebrating the 97 Footprint Awards which were announced back in September, two special anniversary awards were given. The Innovator of the Decade was awarded to both the London Borough of Wandsworth and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities Civil Contingencies and Resilience Unit, and the Innovator Award was given to Forest of Dean District Council’s Street Warden team.

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Does Your Pet Have The XMAS Factor?

We’re searching for the most festive of pets for our #PetXmasFactor competition. You can win a 3D sculpture of YOUR pet (literally, any pet, from cat to iguana!) designed by 3D printing specialists Arty Lobster.

Arty Lobster’s highly skilled artists create the 3D pet sculptures, which are 3D printed in-house before being delivered to the customer.

The company offers three options, including sandstone, bronze and custom options and sculptures range in size from 14 cm (5.5 inches) tall when sitting (or long when standing) to 20 cm (8 inches) tall for the large sculpture.

The prize is for a 14cm sandstone sculpture featuring a brass nameplate.

TO ENTER, simply take a photograph of your pet looking a bit Christmassy.

Then, visit the Pets Magazine Facebook Page or tweet to @Pets_Mag and post your pet photo with the hashtag #PetXmasFactor. (To be a valid entry, it must include the hashtag #PetXmasFactor.)

The deadline for entries is midnight on Monday 17th December 2018. One lucky winner will be announced during the first week of January 2019.


  • There will be one winner in this competition
  • Cash alternatives to the stated prize are not available
  • The judges’ decision is final
  • All entries sent in after the above date will not be counted.
  • The competition is open to owners of all types of pets
  • All entries must be either uploaded to our Facebook page or Twitter page and must include the hashtag #PetXmasFactor.
  • The deadline for pet photos to be shared on social media is Monday 17th December at 6.00pm.
  • One winner will be announced and contacted by the first week of January 2019.
  • After notification of winning, the lucky reader is required to send half a dozen additional photos of their pet
  • Please allow approximately 3-4 weeks for the creation and dispatch of your 3D sculpture
  • This competition is open to UK residents only.
  • By submitting images, you are allowing us to use them for marketing purposes.

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Leave a Gift to Help Animals in Need this Giving Tuesday

It cost more than £200,000 to feed the dogs in RSPCA care last year. This is why the RSPCA is highlighting the importance of legacies this Giving Tuesday (November 27).

Giving Tuesday is the time of year when we are encouraged to think about what we can give back to charities. Even if you can’t make a donation today, leaving a legacy means you can make a lasting impact to animals. Legacies are the lifeblood of charities and helps to fund more than half of the RSPCA’s vital work.

In 2017, the charity collected and rescued 7,669 dogs in England and Wales. On average, it costs the RSPCA £36 to feed a dog in its care whilst they look for their forever home which means that last year it cost £276,084* to feed rescued dogs across England and Wales.

Jessica Taylor Bayliss, RSPCA’s Head of Legacy Marketing, said: “Generous gifts in Wills are vital in ensuring that last year we were able to care for more than 7,000 dogs.

“At this time of year after the retail rush of Black Friday, Giving Tuesday is a chance to think about how we can give something back to charities. There are lots of ways to support the RSPCA but leaving a lasting legacy is a powerful way to help animals, just like Stella, for many years to come.”

Five-year-old Stella is a friendly and playful staffy who came into the RSPCA as her previous owner could no longer care for her. She is currently waiting for her home at RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre.

Dogs are just one of the many animals the RSPCA cares for with more than 114,000 animals rescued each year from bearded dragons to horses.

For more information on leaving a legacy this Giving Tuesday, visit: www.rspca.org.uk/leavealegacy

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Perfect Gift Ideas for Dog Lovers

They say that a dog is for life and not just for Christmas. And while that statement is very true, there are plenty of things that are for dog lovers that will be great to get them for Christmas.

There are so many funky and unique gifts out there that any dog-parent or dog lover is going to enjoy when they find it under the tree. So if you have a friend or family member on your list of people to buy for, then you don’t have to look any further for some ideas and inspiration.

Dog DNA Test

There are DNA tests for us humans where you can find out your heritage and where in the world that you come from. But now you can do the same for your pet. You can get a DNA test for them to check what their breed mix is and where in the world their kind originally comes from. For some owners this won’t be that useful as they may already know. But for those with an adopted dog, it could really be interesting to find out.

Dog Walk Accessories

As any dog owner will know, come rain or shine, you have to be out there every day with your dog on walks. So a good idea for a gift could be some dog walking accessories to make it a little easier. It could be something as simple as a new pair of wellie boots, or perhaps something like dog walking bags, hats, gloves, or new umbrella. A pack-a-mac type of coat could be a fun stocking filler too as it can be handy to grab when there are rain showers.

Hand Vacuum

Having a dog in the home can be so wonderful. But it can also lead to a little bit of mess and dog hair all over the place. Instead of having to get the big vacuum cleaner out each time, a small handheld vacuum can be a good idea. They tend to come cordless, but make sure that it has that capacity so that it can be used all over the house.

Framed Art

Giving a gift that is really personal to the pet owner shows how much you have thought about them and thought about what to give to them. So if you are able, how about getting a print or photograph of them and their dog printed out and framed? You may have some of your own that you can use, or how about sneaking a few off their Facebook page or other social media pages? It can be a wonderful keepsake later down the line too, when the dog is no longer around.

Scented Candles

As much as dog owners love their dog, they are unlikely to love the smell of wet dog in their home. So especially for this time of year when more rain is likely, it can be a gift that keeps on giving! Yankee Candle is a brand that is pretty popular, but there are more natural options too. Look for candles made from soy or beeswax.

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‘Animal VC’ Celebrates 75th Anniversary

To mark the milestone 75th anniversary of the PDSA Dickin Medal* – the animals’ Victoria Cross – vet charity PDSA has, for the first time ever, gathered animal and Armed Forces representatives to commemorate the actions of the Medal’s recipients  – and the countless lives they saved.

A dog, pigeon, horse and cat – proudly wearing PDSA Dickin Medals – stood alongside members of the RAF, Army and Royal Navy at the Imperial War Museum, London, to honour those animals ‘who also serve’.

Seventy-five years ago, at the height of World War II, a messenger pigeon named Winkie became the first ever recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal, which is awarded to animals that display conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving in military conflict.

Corporal Daniel Hatley with Military Working Dog Mali who is wearing his Centenary PDSA Dickin Medal

Since then, the life-saving actions of 72 incredible animals have been honoured by the charity; 71 animals – 34 dogs, 32 pigeons, four horses and one cat have received the PDSA Dickin Medal. An Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal was also bestowed to ‘the real war horse’, Warrior, on 2 September 2014, on behalf of all 16 million animals that served in the Great War.

Jan McLoughlin, PDSA Director General, said: “Today we honour the animals who also serve: those noble creatures whose skill and courage have saved countless military and civilian lives. The face of armed conflict has changed beyond recognition over the last 75 years, yet we rely on these gallant animals as much as ever.”

The PDSA Dickin Medal was instituted by Maria Dickin, CBE. Maria founded PDSA on 17 November 1917 to relieve poverty in a very unique way; by alleviating the suffering of animals through the provision of free veterinary treatment to the pets of people in need.

A quarter of a century later, she saw the vital, life-saving roles animals were playing in the war effort – both on the home front and Front Line – and wanted to ensure they were recognised. She sought to raise the status of animals in society – believing that would improve their care. So, with the support of the War Office and Imperial War Museum, the PDSA Dickin Medal was born.

Recipients of the prestigious Medal hail from histories deadliest warzones.  From the battlegrounds of World War I and II, to the Korean War and Chinese Civil War, and the more recent conflicts in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

First recipients

The inaugural Medal was presented on the 2 December 1943 to Winkie, alongside fellow RAF pigeons, White Vision and Tyke.

Winkie – the first PDSA Dickin Medal recipient

Winkie (Pigeon No. NEHU.40.NS.1) was on board a Beaufort Bomber that ditched in the sea after coming under enemy fire during a mission over Norway. Unable to radio the plane’s position, the stranded four-man crew released Winkie in an attempt to raise the alarm.

Despite horrendous weather and being covered in oil, she flew more than 120 miles home, where her owner was able to pass her message onto RAF Leuchars in Fife.  A successful rescue operation was launched within 15 minutes of her return. Her actions saved the lives of her crew.

The most recent Medal was awarded on 26 October 2018 to Special Operations Military Work Dog, Kuga, from the Australian Army, for ‘unstinting bravery and life-saving devotion to his handler and his unit while on patrol with Operation Slipper in Afghanistan, 2011.

Jan McLoughlin added: “Our founder, Maria Dickin CBE, instituted the PDSA Dickin Medal to recognise the vital role animals were playing during World War II.

“Seventy-five years later and the Medal is as relevant today as ever.  From the wounded messenger pigeon whose determination saved the lives of an RAF air crew to the horse the Germans couldn’t kill. From the world’s only Prisoner of War dog to a life-saving ship’s cat. Their stories are incredible and unique. PDSA is proud to continue her legacy of honouring animals in war.”

Colonel Neil Smith QHVS, Chief Veterinary and Remount Officer, said: “Animals serving in the Armed Forces make a massive difference to the lives of so many. Not just those men and women they serve alongside, but the civilians whose lives our military are protecting.  They fulfil a role humans cannot replicate.  The PDSA Dickin Medal is a fitting tribute to their extraordinary contributions.”

The PDSA Dickin Medal is a large, bronze medallion bearing the words ‘For Gallantry’ and ‘We Also Serve’ all within a laurel wreath. The ribbon is striped green, dark brown and sky blue representing water, earth and air to symbolise the naval, land and air forces.

For more information on the PDSA Dickin Medal visit www.pdsa.org.uk/DM75.

Over a century after it was founded, PDSA is the UK’s leading veterinary charity and strives to improve the wellbeing of all pets’ lives through providing preventive care, educating pet owners and treating pets when they become sick or injured. Today, PDSA treats around 470,000 pets in need a year, helping around 300,000 of the UK’s most vulnerable families through its nationwide network of 48 Pet Hospitals. For more information about the charity visit www.pdsa.org.uk.

Cologne (pigeon) – DM26

Owned and trained by William Payne, World War II messenger pigeon Cologne was a veteran of more than 100 operations with the RAF. He ‘homed’ from crashed aircraft on a number of occasions, but Cologne is renowned for one truly astonishing mission.

Carried by a Lancaster Bomber crew downed on a mission to attack the German city of Cologne to use the official National Pigeon Service title, survived the crash. Five of the seven crew died, and the remaining two crew members were captured.

Cologne, despite serious injuries thought to have been sustained during the crash, managed to escape and headed home to Nottingham – a distance of more than 450 miles. The flight took two weeks in all and Cologne was discovered to have completed this phenomenal journey with multiple injuries, including a broken breastbone.

Cologne was the 26th recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal in recognition of the fortitude, endurance and devotion to duty he’d displayed during the mission.

Simon (cat) – DM54

Simon – ship’s cat aboard HMS Amethyst – who received the PDSA Dickin Medal

In the summer of 1949, at the height of the Chinese Civil War, HMS Amethyst came under People’s Liberation Army artillery fire while cruising along the Yangtze river. The ship received more than 50 direct hits and despite the efforts of a passing Navy Frigate to pull it to safety, the ship and crew members were stranded mid-river for almost 10 weeks.

Hot, humid conditions were the perfect breeding ground for a rat infestation. The already-limited food supplies were in danger of being completely destroyed. Despite shrapnel wounds to his legs and burns to his back and face, ship’s cat Simon was all that stood between the rats and the crew’s essential supplies.

The rats were bold and had even attacked crew members, but this didn’t stop Simon from hunting them down.  For protecting supplies and lifting his injured shipmates’ morale when accompanying the Maintenance Officer on his daily rounds, he was promoted to ‘Able Seaman’ in recognition of his achievements.

The only feline recipient, Simon received his PDSA Dickin Medal posthumously in 1949 and was buried with full military honours.

Sasha (dog) – DM65

Sasha and her handler, Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe, were scheduled to return home from their tour of Afghanistan in July 2008. However, Corporal Rowe was aware that no dog team would be available to replace them and volunteered to stay to help protect their colleagues. It was a decision that, tragically, cost both their lives the very next day.

Four-year-old Labrador Sasha and Corporal Rowe were a highly successful specialist arms and explosives search team. They worked alongside the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment stationed at the Inkerman base in the Kandahar region. During their tour they were credited with 15 confirmed finds, including mortars, mines, ammunition and explosives.

On 24 July 2008 the unit was on patrol with Sasha and Corporal Rowe leading at the front, looking for IEDs when they were ambushed by the Taliban. Sasha was shot and injured by a sniper yet, despite her injuries, managed to make it back to her handler. Sadly, this revealed Corporal Rowe’s position and he was subsequently killed by a volley of rocket-propelled grenades.

On return to Britain, a parade in their honour took place in Royal Wootton Basset following a private repatriation service held at RAF Lyneham.

Sasha was posthumously awarded a PDSA Dickin Medal on 21 May 2014.

Sgt Reckless (horse) – DM68

The Korean War included some of the fiercest combat in military history. Originally bred as a racehorse, Sgt Reckless – called after the nickname used for the ‘Recoilless Rifle’ she carried ammunition for – joined the Anti-Tank Division of the US Marines in October 1952.

She completed gruelling missions in mountainous terrain and often freezing conditions. Despite constant enemy fire and numerous hazards, including shell craters and barbed wire, Reckless carried out her duties and quickly became a much-loved, morale-boosting comrade.

During Battle of Outpost Vegas in March 1953, she made 51 supply trips to the frontline in five days – carrying more than 386 rounds of ammunition weighing around five tonnes in total – through steep mountains and open paddy fields. Constantly under fire and facing up to 500 rounds per minute, Reckless was wounded twice.

She bravely transported multiple casualties to safety on her return trips. After loading up with ammunition, she repeated the process: again, and again and again. How many lives she helped save is unknown.

On 15 June 1957 she was promoted to ‘Sergeant Reckless’ in recognition of her combat record. She was posthumously awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal on 27 July 2016.

Warrior (horse) – DM (Hon)

Known to many as ‘The horse the Germans couldn’t kill’, Warrior’s story is one of the most remarkable tales of animal bravery and endurance to emerge from the Great War.

General Jack Seely left his home on the Isle of Wight in 1914 to take command of the Canadian Cavalry Corps. His beloved horse Warrior, a thoroughbred stallion, travelled to the Western Front with him. Over the next four years, Warrior witnessed the full horror of war during major battles, including the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the muddy hell of Passchendaele.

Trapped in burning stables twice, buried in rubble and mud, and regularly subjected to intensive attack from machine guns and mortar shells, Warrior survived it all. In March 1918 he led a cavalry charge against the Germans at Amiens, which proved to be one of the most crucial battles of the whole campaign and helped bring the end of the conflict closer.

Warrior was posthumously awarded the Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal on 2 September 2014 to mark 100 years since the start of the Great War. The only recipient to pre-date the Medal’s institution in 1943, he received the Medal on behalf of all animals that served.

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Fireworks Petition Backed by 358,000 People Handed in to UK Government

Fireworks campaigners today handed in a petition backed by 358,000 people, calling on the government to restrict their use – to protect pets and other animals.

The RSPCA and FAB Firework Abatement UK today visited the Office for Product Safety and Standards in Birmingham with the petition which renews calls for an urgent review into the existing, outdated fireworks regulations in place.

The move comes following another busy bonfire period for the RSPCA, which saw more than 250 calls from concerned animal lovers.

The Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS) has recently told the RSPCA, in response to the campaign, that it “has no plans” to review the fourteen year old firework legislation, despite being formed 10 months ago, following two parliamentary debates about the negative impact of fireworks, specifically to ‘come forward with suggestions and advice to the UK Government’*.

Similar widespread concern in Scotland has led to the Scottish Government announcing a consultation early in 2019.

As well as one-third of a million people signing the petition, more than 7,000 people have responded to the RSPCA’s own challenge to contact the UK Government directly to request a change to firework regulations.

Speaking from Birmingham today, RSPCA campaign manager Holly Barber said: “We want to see the UK Government listening to people and strengthening the existing law and restricting the use of fireworks to traditional days of the year like bonfire night.

“This year – just like in previous years – our emergency line has been inundated with hundreds of calls from pet owners concerned about their terrified animals during the fireworks.

“This is totally avoidable, and the UK Government need to step up and act to prevent any further animal suffering.”

Julie Doorne from FAB Firework Abatement UK, who set up the petition, said: “Another year and more animals are needlessly suffering despite repeated calls to the UK Government to end this madness.

“This petition highlights the strength of feeling around this important issue and that there is widespread public support for regulations to be changed. Today we are in Birmingham to really drive our point home – we need restrictions around fireworks in place before we are in the same situation again next year.”

The RSPCA received 254 calls about fireworks in November this year with more expected to flood in over the New Year period.

The charity wants to restrict private use on all but four days of the year; November 5, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.

The charity would also like to see the maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for public sale reduced from 120 decibels – above the human pain threshold for noise – to 97 decibels. This is likely to further reduce the stress to animals.

There will be a Westminster Hall debate on Monday 26 November and it is hoped that MPs will echo the call for a urgent review into firework regulations**.

An RSPCA survey from February this year shows that 38% of dogs* are fearful of loud noises such as fireworks meaning thousands of animals’ lives are made a misery by fireworks every year.

To get involved with the campaign visit: www.rspca.org.uk/fireworksaction and join the online debate #FrightfulFireworks

The Change.org petition can be signed at: www.change.org/frightfulfireworks

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Compassionate Travel: A Guide for Animal Lovers in Japan

By Kylie Goldstein, travel writer for Tourist Japan

As most animal lovers already know, Japan is a haven for feline-friends, from cat cafes to entire cat islands, there are endless options to enjoy those cute kitties.

Beyond this, Japan is a paradise for animal lovers, from natural parks with frolicking deer and free-roaming monkeys bathing in natural hot springs. From squirrels to dogs, owls, aquatic life and even bears, Japan has a lot to offer those who are compassionate and loving towards animals.

While Japan was once under scrutiny for unfair treatment of animals and animal welfare, changes have been made and the situation for animals has steadily been improving. With the positive advocating work of volunteers and animal rights groups, major improvements have occurred in Japan such as mandatory microchipping for animals to keep better tabs and prevent overbreeding. Animal groups are bringing about change for both domestic animals and the treatment of animals raised for meat consumption.


Due to an unusually high demand for kittens and puppies for domestic pets in Japan, many breeders have overbred creating an overabundance of animals, leading to strays and abandonment. As more awareness and education is brought forward, the numbers are decreasing and the culture in Japan is becoming more aware of proper animal treatment as well as fostering and adopting animals. Some of the recent improvements that serve the rights of animals include a mandate that babies must not be removed from their mothers for 56 days after birth, which previously animals could be removed from the litter at 45 days. Additionally, the new law regulates that in stores, animals can only be displayed during certain hours and are not permitted to be in 24-hour shops.

Places like Animal Refuge Kansai, a non-profit organization that works to promote the safety and well-being of animals in Japan has made a large impact, predominantly in the fostering and adoption of animals from the center.

Julie Okamoto from ARK says, “We ask that foster families treat the animals as the would (or do) their own pets. Foster families help animals learn to trust humans and enjoy their company”. Okamoto continues to explain that, “One of the goals of fostering is to help the animal make an easier transition from a shelter to a permanent home”.

For foreign visitors looking to get involved, there are many ways to connect with ARK. Okamoto says that the shelter does not send animals abroad although they considered it after the large earthquake and tsunami in Eastern Japan. Instead, many of the animals from the shelter are adopted by members of the international community and will eventually end up living overseas. There are plenty of volunteering opportunities at ARK that opens its doors to foreign tourists who are eager to connect or help out. Additionally, for those who plan to spend a longer period of time in Japan, there are fostering opportunities for animals.

Additionally, Okamoto says, “Tourists or travelers who have visited our shelter or adoption fairs can help even after they return to their home countries either by fund-raising or simply letting their friends who may visit Japan that there are animal shelters here that welcome volunteers from all over the world”.

Rebecka Norman, part of the reservation team at Tourist Japan and passionate about animal welfare recently adopted a small terrier mix, giving her a forever home out of the shelter. This process made Norman more ardent about spreading compassionate awareness for ethical treatment of animals not just in Japan, but globally. Norman notes that there are an increased number of tourists and locals interested in animals rights and the protection of animals in Japan. While there are many zoos, and animals cafes in Japan it is important for travelers to make informed decisions and ensure that the animals are living in humane conditions and are properly cared for.

A few points of interest in Japan for animal lovers who are visiting and looking for ethical choices are the following:

Nara Deer Park

Deer are beautiful animals which are actually symbolic in Japanese culture and mythology, as such they are considered a treasure, a national gem and protected accordingly. Nara Park is a precious example of deer in their natural habitat protected from any external threats. Visitors can explore the park, enjoy the tranquil quiet and calm, natural beauty and interact with the deer. Deer will roam freely, and for those visitors who purchased designated food, they may feed the deer.

Bunny Island

The island of Okunoshima actually has a rather tragic past as it was once the location of many poisonous gas factories in WWII. Nowadays, the island is filled with furry, frolicking rabbits who inhabit the land. Visitors are welcome to feed the bunnies (must provide their own, most often lettuce or carrots), but there is also a place to purchase rabbit food. Although it is a sad history on the island, it is now a safe haven for these cute bunnies to roam and enjoy open green space and quiet.

Cat Cafe Nekoen Asakusa

While there are many, many cat cafes to choose from, ensuring the cafe is ethical and humane is important. Most take good care of their cats and kittens, but Nekoen is notably a good choice. The cafe is in the historic district of Asakusa and it is easily one of the most inviting and warm spaces, filled with cute and friendly cats who are all rescued. The fact that the cats are all rescued is unique and makes the space even more special and meaningful knowing that these cats are being saved and their lives drastically improved. The owner is very kind, speaks English and welcomes everyone with a smile. A note for visiting cat cafes, that shoes are not permitted, only sock feet. For those who do not have socks, the cafe sells cat socks for purchase.

Jigokundani Monkey Park

Found in the northern region of Japan in Nagano, the Macaque monkeys roam the snowy area enjoying the many natural hot springs in the Jigokundai Monkey Park. While there are some elements in place to protect the monkeys and keep them safe from human involvement, the monkey’s are friendly and approachable. This is a unique experience to visit and interact with the monkeys as they relax in the hot steamy water. Hundreds of wild monkeys roam within the park making it the perfect place for animal lovers.

While it is easy to visit other destinations in Japan, from cafes to zoos, it is important to research first to ensure that the animals in the facility are treated humanely, and if not, reach out to the organizations that serve to protect the animals. It can be somewhat heartbreaking and bittersweet to see animals in captivity that may be mistreated, but the importance of spreading awareness and education is vital.

As animal tourism increases and Japan continues to evolve and strengthen the laws and regulations over the treatment of animals, it can only continue to get better for the cute, furry friends living in Japan.

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