French Bulldog, Vivienne, crowned Westminster Dog of the Year
French Bulldog Vivienne, entered with Sir David Amess before his tragic death, has today (28 October) been crowned Westminster Dog of the Year 2021, recognising Sir David's honourable and extensive work to improve and protect dog welfare throughout his life, as well as his work as an MP in Southend West.
Campaigning on behalf of the UK's dogs, Sir David had entered Westminster Dog of the Year more than a dozen times, having previously entered with his rescue dogs, Lilly and Bo, and raising awareness about the impact of fireworks on pets, lobbying for a ban on electric shock collars and preventing puppy smuggling. Representing Sir David on the day alongside Vivienne were close friends and colleagues Andrew Rosindell MP and Mark Francois MP.
The judging panel – Mark Beazley; Chief Executive at The Kennel Club, Owen Sharp, Dogs Trust Chief Executive and Alex Norris MP; 2018 Winner – spent the morning with dogs from different political persuasions and ambitions and led tributes to Sir David Amess, with speeches from the Rt Hon Lord Benyon.
Mark Beazley commented:
“Today we pay tribute to Sir David and all he has done for dog welfare, and hope to honour his legacy to protect and improve the lives of the nation’s pets, who make such a difference to so many. Crowning Vivienne as Westminster Dog of the Year and the public's winner is testament to Sir David's commitment and his passionate campaigning for animals. We would like to thank all the MPs and their four-legged counterparts for taking part in the competition and their tributes to Sir David, and for their commitment to dog welfare.”
Owen Sharp, Dogs Trust Chief Executive:
“Sir David Amess was a cherished friend of Dogs Trust and a great supporter of Westminster Dog of the Year. He was a fantastic advocate for animal welfare and a huge dog lover, making it an honour to award his dog, Vivienne, with the coveted title of Westminster Dog of the Year today.
“His constituents and supporters across the UK voted in their tens of thousands to also crown Vivienne as the winner of the 's’s memory lives on at this event and we want to thank him and the other MPs here today for caring and for making a difference to the lives of dogs here in the UK.”
In recognition of Sir David Amess' contributions to dog welfare, Vivienne the French Bulldog was also crowned the public's winner of Westminster Dog of the Year 2021, with a staggering number of votes via The Kennel Club's website.
Andrew Rosindell MP, said:
“No one loved animals like David, and no one loved their dog like David. I could not feel more sadness at the fact that it will be me chaperoning Vivienne, his dog, at the Dog of the Year, instead of him, but I also could not feel more pride to be able to pay tribute to him in this small way."
Following a two-year hiatus, the competition organised by The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust took place today (Thursday 28 October), in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster, with ten MPs and their four-legged counterparts.
With the boom in dog ownership during the pandemic, this year the event focused on promoting responsible dog ownership, making sure that, alongside the joys of having a dog, owners recognise the responsibility they have to ensure that their pet is a positive member of the community and is able to live a happy and healthy life. Additionally, the competition encourages an open dialogue on dog welfare issues, as well as providing an opportunity for MPs to meet with experts to discuss all aspects of the canine world.
MPs entered the competition earlier this year and campaigned hard, canvassing for votes from the public before meeting the expert judges to discuss their dog's heroic deeds and acts of devotion.
In second place was Stanley, a Border Terrier owned by Edward Timpson MP for Eddisbury, with a place in the (trophy) cabinet awarded to Henry, a Labrador owned by Selaine Saxby MP for North Devon in third.