The annual Westminster Dog of the Year competition is returning once more to Victoria Tower Gardens on 15 September, and this year’s event will see the introduction of the ‘Sir David Amess Pawblic Vote Award’. The accolade will be presented to the winning MP voted for by the public, in memory of the late Conservative MP who was a staunch advocate for the competition and had campaigned tirelessly to improve and protect dog welfare throughout his life.
Sir David was posthumously crowned winner of last year’s competition, having entered with his French Bulldog, Vivienne, before his tragic death in October 2021. He had taken part in Westminster Dog of the Year more than a dozen times, having previously competed with his rescue dogs, Lilly and Bo, where he raised awareness of a number of dog welfare issues, including the impact of fireworks on pets and puppy smuggling, as well as lobbying for a ban on electric shock collars.
Organised by the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust, Westminster Dog of the Year is open to MPs who are passionate about dogs, and their canine companions of all ages, breeds, shapes and sizes – pedigree and crossbreed alike. The event aims to highlight the unique role dogs play in society, while also providing MPs the opportunity to raise any key canine issues that strike a chord with them.
Sir David’s family said, “As a lifelong campaigner for animal rights, we can think of no better recognition of his work than through the renamed ‘Sir David Amess Pawblic Vote Award’. He worked tirelessly throughout his career with organisations such as The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust to secure better animal welfare for the nation’s furry friends.
“We are honoured that the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust have renamed the award after him and he would be thrilled that there is such a wonderful recognition as a lasting memory for him. We would like to thank both organisations for their support and kindness, and we hope that this year’s winner is ready for the ‘pawblicity’ that will no doubt follow from winning such a prestigious award. Best of luck to all the entrants.”
Mark Beazley, chief executive of the Kennel Club, said, “This award is testament to Sir David and his dedicated and passionate campaigning for improving the lives of the nation’s pets. He was a strong advocate for Westminster Dog of the Year and with the Sir David Amess Pawblic Vote Award we are pleased to honour his legacy of championing dog welfare.”
Owen Sharp, Dogs Trust chief executive, said, “Sir David was a steadfast supporter of both the work of Dogs Trust and of the Westminster Dog of the Year award, an event which he entered a number of times, with both Dogs Trust dogs and with his own dogs. Sir David’s commitment to improving the lives of dogs and other animals is admirable and we hope that this award will continue to cement his legacy.”
The theme for this year’s competition is fireworks, which can sadly cause great distress to dogs throughout the year. The event will raise awareness of how dog owners can minimise the stress felt by their pets and explore what the government can do to better regulate the use of fireworks across the UK.
As well as having the chance to be crowned Westminster Dog of the Year by the judges on the day, politicians and their pets will also be hoping to impress the public and win the Sir David Amess Pawblic Vote Award.
For more information, visit thekennelclub.org.uk/wdoty