PPCT creates new pet loss resource

pet bereavement barney

Whatever the circumstances, the loss of a beloved pet can be devastating.

Sometimes, even well-meaning friends can struggle to understand just how profound that grief can be. And, it can be hard to know who to turn to for support.

That’s why Petplan Charitable Trust has created a new resource on our website dedicated to pet loss. Here you’ll find a wealth of useful helplines as well as links to support organisations and other services. Some pet owners have also been kind enough to share their pet bereavement stories in the hope that you may find them helpful.

One such pet owner is Linda. Within the space of a few days, she lost both her mother and her beloved dog, Barney (main image). Here, she shares her moving story.

Barney had been a wonderful dog to me for 16.5 years

“I lost Barney, my 17- year-old rescue border collie/Jack Russell terrier cross (ex Wood Green), Barney, in December, 2011. He had been with me for 16.5 years since he was 6 months old.

Adopted border terrier meg volunteers for Our Special Friends

Linda with her adopted border terrier, Meg

He was suddenly taken seriously ill whilst I was up in Derbyshire with my sister for Christmas. We had to go to the emergency vets in Derby on Boxing Day and waited several hours, as they were understandably very busy. Barney kept collapsing and could not breathe properly. When we were finally seen by the vet, he was found to have fluid on his lungs. There was no hope of saving him, so I had to have him put to sleep. I cannot tell you how upset I was. He had been a wonderful dog to me over all those years. He had seen me through a severe head injury accident and was even allowed to visit me in hospital. Barney was my sole reason for getting better; I had to look after him.

In the space of 10 days I lost my dear dog and my dear mother

“To make matters worse, my elderly Mother was in hospital at the time. I went from the vets to visit her and tell her the news. She was naturally very upset, as she knew Barney very well, too. I left Barney to be cremated and I still have his ashes and collar. My Mother died several days later. She had been due to come home in the first week of January after her 88th birthday on the 2nd Jan but she took a turn for the worse. So, in the space of about 10 days, I lost my dear dog and my dear Mother…

“I had kept a leaflet from Our Special Friends, which I had picked up at a local pet service. I noticed that they provided “Pet Bereavement Services”. At that time, I had no knowledge of Elderly lady with border terrier on lapthis. I didn’t know OSF existed. I rang the lady, Belinda Johnston and she came round to see me. She talked me through things over a couple of hours and was definitely instrumental in helping me come to terms with (not ‘get over’) these losses.”

Volunteering with my dog Meg for Our Special Friends

“After this, I asked if there was anything I could do and she said the charity was looking for volunteers. So, in 2012, I started volunteering, walking a lady’s dog and have carried on since then. What’s more, I also work in the office doing admin on the animal side. I was so grateful for the help I was given and would highly recommend their services to anyone who loses a pet.

“I have since lost a dog and a cat. Now, I only have one dog, Meg, who is also a volunteer for OSF. This is how I met her. I had rung my friend in Yorkshire, who has kennels. We had become great friends during my time living in the same village. I told her about losing Barney and Mother. She advised me she had had an abandoned Border terrier found just before Christmas. She said she was a sweet dog and it was unusual to find an abandoned Border. So, the day after Mother’s funeral, I drove to Yorkshire and collected Meg.”

elderly lady holds border terrier meg on leadMeg has repaid my adoption of her a thousand fold

“I called her Nutmeg, Meg for short. Since then,  she has become a great friend and has been a volunteer for Our Special Friends since 2013. She visited a sick, elderly lady in a care home for 3.5 years. When she died last year, Meg and I visit another elderly lady and take her for a walk. These walks have improved this lady’s mobility hugely . We are still walking round the local park weekly.

“So, following the loss of Barney and Mother, I found Meg and she found me. Meg is doing a lot of good in society and has repaid my adoption of her thousand fold. I have now had her nearly 8 years and she is doing well.”

All images courtesy L Sadler

Are you struggling to cope with pet bereavement? Visit our online resource

COMING SOON : My Pet’s Legacy – Let the pet you loved helped others less fortunate and create a memory capsule to keep and share.

Meet PPCT Founder David Simpson

david simpson PPCT with his spaniel marmaduke

Since 1994, the Petplan Charitable Trust has donated over £11 million to animal charities and veterinary institutions.

Co-Founder, David Simpson, explains how it all started and highlights some of his favourite projects to date. He also introduces us to his beloved cocker spaniel, Marmaduke.

What inspired you to start Petplan Charitable Trust?

Patsy Bloom, my partner in Petplan, had the idea. We had founded Petplan together some 18 years earlier. It had grown to be the largest pet insurer with 400,000 clients. Clients were always sending us pictures of their pets and engaging with us quite differently from how clients normally communicate with their insurers. Patsy felt, rightly, that clients would be interested in helping less fortunate animals and helping to improve veterinary medicine generally. As part of Petplan’s normal business we had strong connections with the larger animals charities and knew how serious a problem animal welfare was generally in the whole country.

steven and colt service dogss uk

You’re clearly an animal lover. Did you grow up with pets? Do you have any today?

Funnily enough, no, I did not grow up with pets. My parents moved around a lot from Greece, where I was born, to several countries in Africa. This made having pets difficult. We did rescue a pair of beautiful Samoyeds, Kiki and Tina, in Algiers. who had been horribly mistreated. Unfortunately, we moved on but not before finding them a good home. I rode regularly and have always loved horses. I did not have any dogs again until I had children, when we had two Shelties and a Cavalier King Charles. After the children left home we did not have any pets.

Then, 5 years ago, I brought Marmaduke into my life. He is a chocolate Working Cocker. He is not a working dog, just a great big softie with typical spaniel dolesome eyes and a lovely temperament. His only fault is that when it comes to food he is a total millennial. He believes that he has an entitlement to any food that is around ….. anywhere. It turns him into a thief!

How has PPCT grown over the past 20 years?

Enormously. We were not sure how policyholders would react. Initially their donations were built into their premium. However, for the last 20 years, they have had to make the conscious choice to give us money. We have been overwhelmed by their support. We now have an income of around £1 million per annum which has enabled us to help advance veterinary science and support a vast number of very worthy causes.

Does Petplan Charitable Trust only support UK charities and organisations, or do you also do work overseas?

We do support work overseas, though mostly through UK-based organisations. The vast majority of our support does go to charities working in the UK to reflect our donor base. There are, however, a number of really good charities operating overseas who are doing tremendous work who we feel it is important to support.

members of the streetvet team

Petplan Charitable Trust has helped many charities achieve great things. Are there any projects PPCT has supported which are particularly memorable?

Goodness me, there are so many – that I could go on for a long time! Our work in supporting rehoming and rescue charities of course has always been central to our grants and remains a core element. I have always been drawn to the ‘human/animal bond’ side of things and there are so many that come to mind; assistance dogs such as Hearing Dogs and Pets for Therapy; Riding for the Disabled and the important work they do; Service Dogs matching rescues with ex serviceman with PTSD; StreetVet veterinary volunteers treating homeless people’s dogs; and to several charities we have supported who find foster homes for pets when a home breaks up through domestic abuse. Sadly, refuges cannot take in pets yet families need to know that their pets will be able to rejoin them in due course.

One of the more quirky was helping the Hampshire Fire Brigade’s Animal Rescue unit. We funded the first dedicated Animal Rescue tender, and also supported the team as they not only trained another 53 brigades around the country but introduced a programme whereby there is now a network of specially-trained emergency veterinary surgeons across the whole of the UK.

Our largest grant to date has been to the Pet Blood Bank which has enabled them to build a specialist mobile collection unit. Our smallest grant was £375 a year we gave to the Joseph Clark School, a school for children with special needs, that financed the food for their pet rabbits and gerbils.

What is the thing that you’re most proud of that Petplan Charitable Trust has achieved?

That we have become a significant grant giver. In terms of our support of clinical studies as government and other funding has dwindled the role we play has increased. On the Welfare front, too, we a major grant giver which is evidenced by the fact that we have to date supported more than 300 individual charities.

mobile pet blood bank

How do you choose which charities and projects Petplan Charitable Trust will help?

We invite applications for both our clinical work and welfare grants. (If you’re a charity, veterinary institution or veterinary practice, you can apply for a grant, hereThese are assessed by our Scientific Committee, made up of eminent veterinary surgeons from every veterinary school in the country, and our Welfare Committee comprising experienced animal welfare experts. They assess the applications and make recommendations to the Trustees who make the ultimate decisions.

More recently, we have also started to look at specific areas and organisations that we feel we would like to support and where we feel there is a special case to be made. These are assessed by a small committee of Trustees who in turn make their recommendations to Trustees.

Looking to the future, how do you see Petplan Charitable Trust continuing to grow?

Very much more of the same. There is still an enormous amount of work to be done and the animal welfare issues do not go away. Every year we have to turn away many worthwhile applications. I would like to think we could raise more money from our donor base so that we can bridge some of this shortfall.

Read more News Stories, here.

PPCT awards £25,000 to Service Dogs UK

steven and colt service dogss uk

The Petplan Charitable Trust (PPCT) has awarded grants totalling £25,000 to Service Dogs UK.

The charity trains and provides PTSD Assistance Dogs, selected carefully from rescue, to support members of the Armed Forces and Emergency Services (including Coast Guard & RNLI & UKSAR) who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Over the past 3 years, Petplan Charitable Trust has provided grants towards the training of both dogs and their new owners.

“They recognised early on that what we were doing was important. They helped the charity to grow and that kind of support for a start-up charity is so precious,” comments Judith Broug, Service Dogs UK.

“We truly appreciate the fantastic support that has helped transform the lives of veterans and rescue dogs.”

PPCT awards £10,000 to Paws Protect

woman holds tabby cat paws protect

In 2019 PPCT awarded £10,000 to Cats Protection for their Paws Protect fostering service, an essential service for people who want to flee domestic abuse.

cats protection logoFor many victims, leaving violent relationships is made impossible as they cannot bear to lose their pets or put them at risk. Very few local authorities provide facilities for boarding pets and most domestic abuse refuges are unable to accept cats.

Paws Protect is a free volunteer led fostering service, where cats are cared for until owners have escaped their violent relationship and resettled away from their abuser.

Currently covering London, Hertfordshire, Essex, Sussex, Surrey and Kent (all of which are areas with no other cat fostering services available), Paws Protect has helped over 265 families with over 470 cats since the service was established. Once a referral to take in a cat has been received either from an individual or an agency, our project staff will collect the cat and bring them to a Cats Protection Adoption Centre which has accommodation for Paws Protect cats. There, each cat is health checked and receives any necessary veterinary treatment. From there, cats are placed with volunteer foster carers who take care of them whilst their owner is resettled.

Making a real difference to people’s lives

Cats are usually with foster carers for 6-9 months, and all costs including cat food, litter and veterinary expenses are covered by Cats Protection during this time. All cats will be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped if necessary.All information concerning clients and foster carers is confidential.

“At Paws Protect we are so grateful for the funding received from the Petplan Charitable Trust for Paws Protect, our cat fostering service for people fleeing domestic abuse,” comments Rose Abram, Paws Protect Co-ordinator at Cats Protection.

“It means we will be able to help more families out of abusive situations by fostering their cats while they flee to safety, giving them the peace of mind that their beloved pets are safe so they can be too. The funding will enable us to make a real difference to people’s lives.”

PPCT funds VR horse rider safety film

dead slow poster british horse society

A virtual reality film released by the British Horse Society aims to cut the number of road accidents involving horses and riders.

The Petplan Charitable Trust donated £25,000 to fund the film which is part of BHS’s Dead Slow campaign. The Dead Slow campaign was launched in March 2016 to coincide with release of the Horse Accidents statistics from the past 6 years. This showed that 181 horses and 36 riders had been killed on the roads and there had been 2,000 incidents involving horses and vehicles. Of these incidents, 80% were caused because drivers passed too fast, too close or a combination of both.

The Dead Slow campaign has 4 clear messages:

  • When you see a horse on the road slow down to a maximum of 15 miles per hour
  • Do not rev your engine or sound your horn
  • When safe to do so, pass the horse wide, at least a cars width, and slowly
  • Drive slowly away

british horse society dead slow banner

In 2018 the British Horse Society’s Dead Slow Virtual Reality film was launched to improve awareness of the campaign.

“Thanks to the Petplan Charitable Trust’s generous support we were able to produce the Dead Slow Virtual Reality film. It has made an incredible difference for drivers to understand what it is like to be on a horse when a car passes too fast or too close,” says Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety.

“After seeing the film 94% of drivers realised they must slow down to a maximum of 15 mph, when passing horses making it safer for both riders and drivers.”

StreetVet ‘beyond grateful’ to PPCT

members of the streetvet team

The Petplan Charitable Trust has donated £18,000 to StreetVet, an organisation that brings veterinary support to dogs owned by the homeless.

streetvet logoStreetvet was founded by Jade Statt. Now the charity’s CEO, she qualified from Glasgow in 2002. While Statt was in practice in London, she was struck by the number of homeless people with dogs. So, she decided to do something to support their health and welfare.

Although PDSA, Blue Cross and many others offer help, homeless people are often reluctant to use their services. They fear that the animals may be taken from them.

Statt began by going round London with a nurse and a backpack and providing some basic veterinary welfare and health management. She met up with fellow vet, Sam Joseph, who had started doing similar work in 2015 whilst still a student at Bristol Veterinary School. They joined forces and formed StreetVet.

Unlike other organisations engaged in similar work, StreetVet is entirely veterinary-led and has been professionally organized. Altogether, PPCT has awarded £18,000 to the charity to help it continue its work.

“StreetVet have been overwhelmed by the support provided by the Petplan Charitable Trust. The guidance and mentorship, alongside incredible financial help, has been game-changing for us and we are beyond grateful!” says Statt.

Read more news stories, here

PPCT supports Pet Blood Bank UK

mobile canine blood bank

Petplan Charitable Trust (PPCT) has teamed up with Pet Blood Bank UK (PBB) to support the launch of the first canine blood mobile unit in the UK. Set up in 1994 the Trust provides much needed funds to promote the health and welfare of animals.

pet blood bank uk logo“PBB are very grateful to PPCT for funding this new initiative, the new mobile unit will provide us with an amazing opportunity to reach more donors and make sure we have blood products available 24 hours a day/365 day a year to help sick or injured dogs ultimately saving more dogs lives,” said John Hill, Chairman of Pet Blood Bank UK Board of Trustees.

“We currently hold five sessions a week at host practices across the UK. With advancements in veterinary medicine, maintaining our stock levels can be challenging so the new mobile unit will give us the flexibility to run additional sessions when our blood stocks are low.

“We are thrilled with the new unit and are very grateful to our colleagues at the Petplan Charitable Trust for their support.”

David Simpson from PPCT said, “We are delighted to be supporting Pet Blood Bank. The Blood Bank does tremendously valuable and life-saving work in providing vitally needed blood to help sick pets. Nor do we forget that none of it would be possible without the active support of the dogs and the owners who volunteer to donate blood.”