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updated 5/10/01
PDSA~Frontline« Pet Survivor of the Year Award

THE STRANGE sight of four cats, three dogs and a small pony arriving at a Warwickshire country hotel recently caused something of a stir among the delegates attending a police conference and a major motor manufacturers' event. It has to be said that the most impeccably behaved of all these special animals was eight-year old chestnut pony 'Polo', belonging to the Eley family from Hilton, Derby.

'Bramble' Thomas from Bargoed - Welsh winner: It is hard to imagine a more terrifying experience for a young pregnant terrier cross than to be daubed in green gloss paint by so-called party revellers. The terrified little dog was found by a police officer several days later.

'Chloe' as she was then known, was taken to Cormie's Veterinary Surgery, Blackwood, for urgent treatment for chemical burn injuries and shock. Her vain attempts to lick off the toxic paint caused her to abort the litter of puppies.

At this point, good fortune at last smiled on the little dog in the form of pensioner Glyn Thomas who had recently lost both of his long-term canine friends. He was looking to offer a home to a needy pet. Mr and Mrs Cormie knew that he was the right person to rehabilitate 'Bramble', as she is now known.

Glyn now has a lively companion, while 'Bramble' has the caring owner she so richly deserves. 'Tang' Norman (now living in Normandy) - South East regional winner:

'Tang' a six-year old German Shepherd was on duty with her Metropolitan Police handler Richard Norman at Heathrow Airport last November when a search for possible terrorist suspects at a nearby hotel went badly wrong.

In the line of duty she jumped over a low wall, only to plunge some 20 feet on the other side on to concrete. She sustained severe injuries to three legs.

'Tang' was taken to Willett House veterinary surgeons in Staines, where over several weeks she underwent a series of operations to repair her badly damaged legs, which she bore with remarkable patience. Medically discharged from active duty, she learned quickly how to get around despite having splints on both front legs for weeks.

Now 'Tang' and her owners Richard and Paula Norman are enjoying a happy retirement, mainly living in France.

'Jasper' Metcalfe from Camberwell, London - London regional winner: 'Jasper' and his sister 'Tipper' were on a zebra crossing with the Metcalfe family when a car overtook stationery traffic, striking poor 'Jasper' and speeding off. Andrea Metcalfe immediately the eight-year old Jack Russell Terrier to the PDSA New Cross PetAid hospital. Although he was not displaying many outward signs of injury, he had breathing difficulties and was in deep shock.

Uwe Holz, PDSA veterinary surgeon, with 'Jasper' London regional finalist -
PDSA~ Frontline« Pet Survivor of the Year award 2001.

Once stable, the extent of his injuries could be established; a ruptured diaphragm and spleen, dislocated hip and knee ligament damage. Lengthy surgery was needed to repair the diaphragm and re-position all his internal organs. Only when 'Jasper' was sufficiently recovered could he withstand further surgery to repair his damaged knee.

'Jasper's' accident happened in February this year and it was many weeks before he was back to his usual perky self.

These VIPs - very important pets - had been chosen from around the country as this year's regional winners in the popular PDSA-Frontline« Pet Survivor of the Year award. Indeed South East regional winner 'Tang', a retired Metropolitan police dog now living in France, was able to attend the final, thanks to the pet passport scheme.

From several hundred entries, these plucky pets had been selected for their remarkable powers of recovery in the face of freak accidents, acts of cruelty by man or another animal or sheer misfortune, as testament to animals' capacity to survive against the odds. While the skills and quick action of their veterinary surgeons had given the animals a fighting chance, aided by their devoted owners' care, it was their own fighting spirit that made the difference.

The award is organised annually by PDSA - Britain's No 1 Veterinary Charity and sponsored by Merial, the manufacturer of Frontline«.

Each regional winner received an oil portrait of their pet, gift vouchers from Pets at Home and a complimentary subscription to either Your Cat or Your Dog magazine. The overall winner - 'Moses' the Persian cat from Chudleigh, Devon - also received gift vouchers, a weekend break at Chesford Grange Hotel, Kennilworth, and a commemorative silver salver.

The veterinary surgeon who resusitated 'Moses', Mr David Baldwin of Kingsteignton Veterinary Group, near Newton Abbott, will be presented with a luxury food hamper as the practice's prize for having treated the Pet Survivor of the Year 2001.