Proud pet owners, RSPCA experts and celebrity guests, came together on Sunday 14 June to take part in the RSPCA’s first ever virtual pet show.
The RSPCA’s One Fun Day offered the charity a chance to showcase the work of its centres and branches and raise much needed funds as well as select a national pet champion chosen by a panel of judges live on Zoom.
The pet show included a packed programme of local and national virtual events from Pilates with Verity Bowditch from E4’s Made in Chelsea, live Q&A’s with RSPCA inspector and Dog Rescuers’ star Herchy Boel.
Also included was, dog treat baking masterclass with Virgin Radio DJ Kate Lawler and her fiancé Boj and a chat about small furries with CBBC’s Rory the vet and much more.
Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive at the RSPCA, said: “The RSPCA’s One Fun Day was a brilliant success and lots of fun. It was truly amazing to see people from across the organisation as well as our fantastic supporters working together to make this trailblazing virtual event happen.
“It was inspiring to see so many loving pet owners and to celebrate the relationship they have with their pets as well as the amazing things our animals do.”
Chris judged the final alongside actor and influencer Sophie Craig and revealed Zara and Wilf as their overall winner. Zara a Pitbull type dog, and her partially sighted pal Wilf won the Best Friends category and overall Best in Show.
Chris added: “Sophie and I were particularly taken with Zara and Wilf. Seeing such a gentle dog like Zara helping Wilf who is partially sighted is such a beautiful story and it reminds us that actually it’s the dog’s behaviour we should be looking at not just their breed.”
Emma Hindson, from Durham, adopted Zara from her local rescue centre around nine years ago. Suspicions that she might be a prohibited type of dog were first raised by her dog trainer, and so Emma contacted her dog legislation officer.
Following an assessment, Zara was found to be of type but, because she was so well behaved and had good character references from the trainer, she was allowed to stay at home until the day of the court case. She was returned the following day having been exempted.
Emma explained that the conditions of exemptions has impacted Zara, for example she is required to wear a muzzle and remain on a lead when out for walks which means she can get frustrated.
Emma also feels there is a stigma attached to owning a dog like Zara despite her being a loving and friendly dog.
She said: “I decided to expand on the family a little and we’ve never really looked back. Wilf has helped with Zara’s growing confidence and she’s helped him too as he can’t see very well so he likes having her alongside him. I think people react to Zara differently when she’s got Wilf alongside her too.”
The other winners included;
Best Rescue – Posie the rescue staffie who has become a seizure alert dog for her owner’s daughter who has epilepsy
Best Trick – Bettie the black and white cat who plays fetch!
Grooviest Mover – Spike the lurcher cross who speeds around the garden
Sleeping Beauty– Flo the German Shepherd who sleeps on her back
Best Friends – Zara and Wilf
Golden Oldie – Harold the 12-year-old rescue cat
Best Baby – Molly the 14-week Spaniel puppy
Amazing Transformation – Bella the Bichon Frise who was underweight with scabs all down her back when she was rescued
Perfectly Imperfect – Gary the partially sighted black and white rescue cat whose retinas didn’t develop properly from being locked in a cupboard as a kitten
Peas in a Pod – Tess the RSPCA rescue horse who has fantastic hair just like her owner Rowena
Zest For Life – Tia the Whippet who came out of her shell and now has bags of energy
Best Companion – Pepper, a border collie and dalmatian cross, who has become an amazing support to her NHS worker owner during the lockdown
The virtual fundraising event reflects how charities like the RSPCA are having to think outside the box to raise desperately-needed funds during the Covid pandemic so they can continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming the animals who need them most.