Well, after watching the video - www.sharethejoy.co.uk (which my children thought was hilarious and I thought was pretty clever) - I decided to vote for the Dogs Trust, which is one of 5 dog charities which are in line to receive a £6,000 donation this Christmas.
The reason for my choice? All of the charities are worthy winners, but the Dogs Trust has a special mention in my forthcoming book - Beastly London - so I'm biased really....
The Dogs Trust, originally known as The National Canine Defence League (NCDL), was founded in 1891 'to protect dogs from torture and ill-usage of every kind'. I had a relatively quick flick through The Times archive and found a variety of issues which the NCDL highlighted between 1896 and 1915... it makes for a mixture of sad and heartening reading - probably much like their work today.
1896: Lobbied (London) County Council to withdraw the muzzling order (during rabies outbreaks all dogs out in the streets had to be muzzled, otherwise they could legally be 'removed') and suggested that as a substitute to muzzling (which was harsh and cruel treatment for many working dogs) the dogs should wear a numbered tag or disc attached to their collar which would be issued with the dog licence... the logic to the muzzling order ran thus: owned dog = no danger; stray dog = danger.
1898: Lobbied Parliament to stop incompetent policemen from being able to pass judgement onthe symptoms of rabies and bludgeon to death (on the street) any dog suspected of rabies: one case in the London press on 29 Feb, 1898 told of 'a poor little chow-chow dog (innocent of rabies) was bludgeoned by a London policeman twice on the head, then once on the body, and finally thrown half-dead upon a dust-heap’.
1903:Statements from the NCDL were read in Parliament about the ‘enormous extent to which dogs are being used for vivisectional experiments’ - they had sent a petition to Parliament for the prohibition of vivisection on dogs. By 1906 their petition included 700,000 signatures. The NCDL also offered a £5 reward for anyone able to trace the whereabouts of a Lady who (presumably) took pity on a Collie dog and took it home after it escaped the vivisectors and found its way into a shop in Gower Street – the dog had a cut throat and was suffering terribly.
By 1908, the NCDL had over 250 rescue/re-homing centres nationwide and the wish was for every city in the country to eventually have its own centre.
1913: Negotiations were held with the Railway Clearing House to improve the conditions under which dogs travelled by rail and steamer to reduce their suffering. It was agreed that dogs would be refused if their accommodation was too small; the RCH could not provide food but would offer water if the sender requested this on the labels, and it would also try to prevent delays in transit and delivery, where possible.
1913: Presentations (bronze medals) were given to the owners of heroic dogs, including ‘Grissel’, a Collie, who rescued a young child from drowning in Wandsworth Common pond; other medals went to dogs waking their owners when a fire broke out at night and one for saving his master who was attacked by a savage bull.
1913: The NCDL called attention to the suffering of chained dogs in the winter: ‘We hear of dogs in farmyards always chained, sometimes to a fence or post, without pretence at shelter, sitting and lying day and night on mud, snow, or the frosty ground. And the condition of dogs in allotment gardens is pitiable in the extreme. In addition to all the sufferings of captivity, they are sometimes left unvisited – and therefore presumably without food or water for days together. If it is not possible for a dog to be always at liberty, he should at least have a sound, dry, comfortable kennel, raised from the ground, so that its floor may not become damp, and provided with a bed of clean, dry straw or shavings, placed in an enclosure where he can be loose and move about. Dogs need liberty, comfort, and warmth in order to be happy.'
1914: An NCDL officer was called to county court to give evidence in the case of a dog-acrobat whose act was deemed to cause it ‘abject terror’ – being made to balance on the defendant’s hand upside-down and on the defendant’s head while he [the owner] climbed a ladder.
1915: During the First World War: ‘In order that soldiers’ and sailors’ dogs may not be destroyed for lack of means to keep them, the NCDL… is promoting a scheme for the free supply of dog biscuits.' From January to March 1915, they were supporting 152 dogs in this way and also paid for 878 licences for dogs belonging to fighting men: one poor woman with 7 children, the eldest of 13 years of age, wrote to the secretary of the league: ‘I knew if I had done away with his dog he would not have forgiven me. It was what I promised him faithfully to look after as well as his children.’ The charity also helped 152 people who had been hard hit by the war, such as stockbrokers’ clerks, to pay their dog licences.
GO ON HAVE A VOTE! www.sharethejoy.co.uk (but I won't hold you to The Dogs Trust though, because all of the charities do their own sterling work.)