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Conference highlights how society can benefit from pet ownership
The conference concluded with a panel discussion exploring what benefits animals can bring to individuals and the wider community.
Politicians, charities and academics meet to discuss Blue Cross ‘Link in the Chain’ report 

Experts on mental health, pet welfare, loneliness and poverty met in London on Thursday (28 November) to discuss how more people can benefit from pets and contact with animals.

The conference coincided with the launch of a Blue Cross report examining the devastating impact these problems have on society, and how pet ownership is the beneficial ‘link in the chain’ for so many people. Blue Cross would like to see further scientific research carried out in this area to enable the development of more evidence-based policies.

During the event, attendees heard from a host of inspiring speakers, including Professor the Lord Trees and Dr Mel Moss, consultant psychiatrist at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Dr Moss talked about her Pets as Therapy (PAT) dog Mutley, and how together they have had a major influence in shaping the culture and practices on their ward.

There were also talks from representatives of a number of charities, including Dogs Trust, Mayhew and the PDSA.

Zoe Edwards, head of animal welfare at Mayhew, spoke about how demand for the charity’s services has increased concurrently with the rise in poverty across the UK. Indeed, figures from the independent Social Metrics Commission show that approximately 14.2 million adults are living below the poverty line.

Delegates heard emotional and heartwarming stories from people whose lives have been changed by their pets. In one poignant video, Amanda Graughran explained how her Blue Cross horse, Jasmin, gave her a sense of purpose following the death of her daughter, Genna.

Amanda said: “When we first brought Jasmine home, she was very unsure of people around her and where she was. It was within 18 months of losing Genna and it gave us something, me particularly, to focus on. Especially when I had to finish work of the job I was doing at the time.

“Jasmine seemed to feel what you were feeling and understand what you were going through. Maybe because she’d been through something similar herself. The way I would describe her when she came, is that she was depressed. That’s how I got, and the anxiety that went with it. And it just felt as though she understood, and that was a comfort.”

The conference concluded with a panel discussion exploring what benefits animals can bring to individuals and the wider community. The panel included Mandy Bentley and Amy Rosa, representing St Mungo's homeless charity, Andrew James from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Nottingham researcher Jenny Stavisky, and Karen James, head of volunteering at Blue Cross.

Steve Goody, COO and deputy chief executive at Blue Cross, said: “It is our charity’s aim to demonstrate how important and life-enhancing pets are to people, especially those living in vulnerable and challenging situations. With these benefits quite literally saving lives, we are committed to breaking down the barriers that are preventing those in need enjoying the rewards pet ownership can bring.

“Every day we see people using our services that would be bereft and alone without their animal companion. That is why Blue Cross are dedicated to being a voice for both pets and people and working to ensure the benefits of pet ownership are embedded across all areas of society.”

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Cats Protection launches Christmas animation

News Story 1
 Leading feline charity Cats Protection has launched a heartwarming Christmas animation to raise awareness of the important work it does. The animation is based on a true story of a kitten that went missing earlier this year. Freezing cold and hungry, the kitten was dumped in a box on a roadside and somehow became separated from her brother and sisters.


Thankfully there is a happy end to this tail, and Libby - now named Misty - was eventually reunited with her littermates. Misty’s owner, Amy Smith, said: “Misty has settled amazingly well into our home, she has found a best friend in my daughter Lily and likes to follow her around the house. She also loves to chase bugs in the garden. We feel very lucky to have her.” 

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WSAVA launches certificate programme focusing on companion animals in One Health

The first certificate programme focusing specifically on the role of companion animals in One Health has been launched by the One Health Committee (OHC) of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

The online programme, which is free of charge for WSAVA members, has been developed in recognition of the growing impact of companion animals in human society. Pet ownership is becoming more popular globally, and this has increased the implications for One Health, regarding the human-companion animal bond. The WSAVA OHC hopes that this course will bridge the knowledge gap between veterinary surgeons and human physicians. New modules are being added weekly, with a total of 20 modules expected to be available by early 2020.