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Dogs Trust Chief Executive in Honours List

A Clarissa Baldwin, Chief Executive of the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list.

The honour has been awarded in recognition of Mrs Baldwin’s outstanding contribution to canine welfare for the past 30 years. Always an innovator, it was she who created the famous strapline "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas," back in 1978 when she was asked by the charity’s Trustees to come up with a phrase which would dissuade people from giving pets as presents.

Clarissa Baldwin has been a tireless champion of responsible dog ownership during nearly thirty years of service to Dogs Trust (formerly known as the National Canine Defence League.). In her current role, she has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities that have resulted in great improvements in dog welfare nationally, internationally and at a local community level.

One of the key differences between Dogs Trust and many other animal welfare organisations is the charity’s strict non destruction policy. At Dogs Trust Rehoming Centres no healthy dog is ever put to sleep, and those dogs which can’t be rehomed, either for behavioural or medical reasons, will be cared for at the centre for the rest of their lives. In 2003, Dogs Trust cared for over 11,500 dogs.

Under her leadership, Dogs Trust was the first animal charity to take a holistic approach to the problem of stray and abandoned dogs. Several years ago Mrs Baldwin decided that it wasn’t enough just to rescue and rehome dogs, the problem needed to be tackled at source.

Mrs Baldwin steered the charity towards its current preventative campaigns, and millions of pounds have since been invested in extensive dog neutering, microchipping and youth education schemes around the country.

In addition to her work in the UK, Mrs Baldwin has established links abroad in order to help them deal humanely with their own stray dogs.

Mrs Baldwin is very much a hands-on Chief Executive, and staff at the charity’s Islington head office have been known receive e-mails sent by Clarissa at 5am! During her long working day, Clarissa is always accompanied by Bumble, her rescued 12 year old Cairn terrier.

Mrs Baldwin spoke to OUR DOGS on New Year’s Eve, when the honour was announced. "I am so taken aback by it," she said. "But I don’t deserve singling out – this honour belongs to everybody who works within the Dogs Trust, 365 days a year, doing their best for the dogs in our care, and elsewhere.

"I can only offer my humble thanks to them for all they do and to share the honour of the award with them."

Clarissa is a trustee of several other charities including Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, SNIP International and the Pet Plan Charitable Trust.

She is Chairperson of the Greyhound Forum and founder member of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes.