PDSA marks 100 grand years of coming to beloved pets’ rescue

Vet nurse Amy Mitchell with Bailey the chihuahua. Picture: Alistair Linford
Vet nurse Amy Mitchell with Bailey the chihuahua. Picture: Alistair Linford
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Pets have very much become part of the family in many Capital households and across the Lothians, but that wasn’t always the case.

That growing importance is where People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals comes in – a leading UK veterinary charity providing treatment for sick and injured animals.

The charity celebrates 100 years today, with the dedicated team at Edinburgh’s PDSA Pet Hospital at the heart of its Scottish operations. The milestone is a grand achievement after the humble beginnings of PDSA’s story. The organisation started in 1917 in wartime Britain. Founder Maria Dickin was struck by the suffering of animals and set up a clinic in a tiny London cellar that changed the nation’s perspective on pets forever.

A century later and the charity is stronger than ever with staff working tirelessly to provide 2.7 million veterinary treatments helping 430,000 much-loved pets.

Included in this is the Edinburgh hospital, which treats on average 125 animals a day.

Senior vet Andrew Hogg said: “I think Maria she would be really proud of what PDSA has achieved.

“We care for those pets who come to us with an emergency and instant treatment is needed as well as those perhaps for the long-term benefits of the pet while educating the owner to see what they can do to become the best they can.”

PDSA prides itself on improving pet wellbeing in three ways – educating owners, preventing disease and carrying out life-saving operations.

The pet hospital in Edinburgh primarily treats cats and dogs, but also extends to rabbits, small rodents and birds.

Vets do treatments from a simple booster vaccination to fixing broken bones, but Mr Hogg admitted they had to be ready for anything.

He said: “I think it is incredible what some pets do eat. We have had dogs come to in with coins, golf balls, socks and even corn-on-the-cob stuck in its mouth.”

The care provided is even more impressive given the whole charity operates through donations. The Capital’s pet hospital on Hutchison Crossway costs around £1 million a year to operate.

Mr Hogg said: ““PDSA offered free treatments in the earlier years, but now more people pay for treatments, which then goes back into the charity to help the future of PDSA.

“When things go wrong for pets, we are the first port of call. It costs £60 million to deliver our veterinary services alone and, with no Government funding, we rely entirely on the goodwill of our supporters.”

The Edinburgh pet hospital opened in 1996 and features five consulting rooms, two operating theatres, X-ray and isolation facilities, and feline and canine recovery kennels to cope with the increasing demand in the Capital. The city’s hospital provides more than 68,000 treatments a year.

Despite the huge landmark, staff at the hospital plan not to celebrate too much with another busy day’s work on the cards with 5,300 sick and injured pets being seen. Instead, the Edinburgh hospital will host a range of fundraising events in the next 12 months. Their passion guarantees that one woman’s grand vision lives on.