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Animals walk the walk in the corridors of power

Assorted dogs and a pony paid a visit to the top debating chamber in the land on March 3rd, when representatives of animal charities and associated organisations hosted an event at the House of Lords to demonstrate the beneficial effect that animals have on human lives.

Organised by the National Office for Animal Health (NOAH) which represents the animal medicines industry, in association with the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW), the event drew attention to the positive difference that assistance animals and pets make to so many people, and emphasised that we need to repay them by treating them with kindness and respect and ensuring they stay healthy and well..

Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, officer of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare opened the event, expressing the need for MPs and policy makers from all parties to promote and further the cause of animal welfare. "Animals are good for us – we must be good to them," he said. "The first animal welfare bill for over 100 years will be put to the house shortly. It is our duty to ensure that it will provide protection, compassion and respect for all animals now and in the future".

The stars of the event were the animals themselves, accompanied by the individuals who benefit from their companionship and practical assistance. Dogs including a Leonberger, an ex-Battersea Dogs Home mongrel and several Labradors were there to prove that as well as being man’s best friend a dog can make life a whole lot easier for anyone who needs a little help with everyday tasks.

DJ, a pony who is normally employed in a riding school in Vauxhall, demonstrated his gentle, unflappable nature by ignoring the traffic and walking to Westminster with his handler to represent the many horses up and down the country that bring joy to disabled people through riding and grooming lessons. Cats and small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs were all remembered and appreciated by the various organisations representing their interests at the event.

Special guest was Buster, winner of the animal Victoria Cross. Last year on active service in Iraq with his handler, Sgt Danny Morgan of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, Buster discovered a large cache of arms hidden in a cavity. The haul had not been found despite intensive searches of the area, and Buster’s find is held responsible for saving the lives of many troops and civilians.

Many MPs and Peers expressed interest in the event, and Chief Executive of NOAH Phil Sketchley was delighted with the response. "Millions of animals across the country play a part in improving the quality of human life. These range from those who work as assistance animals to all the many pets who provide companionship and loyalty to their human owners.

We need to make sure that the quality of their lives is improved as well – and here regular vaccination and good preventive healthcare has its part to play," he said. "I am extremely pleased that this event has highlighted the work of devoted animal companions and has underlined our communal responsibility to provide them with proper care and protection".