The annual Westminister Dog of the Year competition is set to make a return with the introduction of a new award dedicated to the late MP Sir David Amess.
The MP for Southend West was fatally stabbed on 15 October 2021 at a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. On 13 April this year, Isis-supporting terrorist, Ali Harbi Ali, 26, was handed a rare life sentence for stabbing the Conservative politician.
This year’s event, to be held in Victoria Tower Gardens on 15 September, will see the parliamentarians’ pooches compete for “Sir David Amess Pawblic Vote Award” in memory of the Conservative MP.
According to the Kennel Club, he 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.
The dog-loving MP had taken part in the contest more than a dozen times, having previously competed with his rescue dogs, Lilly and Bo.
He used his entries to raise awareness of a number of canine welfare issues, including the impact of fireworks on pets and puppy smuggling, as well as lobbying for a ban on electric shock collars.
The competition, co-organised by The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust, 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, whilst 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 re-named 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 the award was a testament to the MP’s “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,” he contined.
Owen Sharp, Dogs Trust chief executive, added: “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.”
Fireworks have been chosen as the theme for this year’s awards in a bid to raise awareness of how dog owners can minimise the stress felt by their pets and explore what the government can do to better regulate their use.
For more information, please visit thekennelclub.org.uk/wdoty.