RSPCA celebrates 15 years of public services’ outstanding animal welfare

Public bodies urged to show the UK can still be a world leader in animal welfare.

Applications are now open for the RSPCA’s iconic PawPrints awards, which recognises public bodies who go the extra mile for animals and their welfare. 

Running since 2008, the RSPCA’s flagship PawPrints awards remains the only scheme of its kind, recognising local authorities and public bodies for going above and beyond to deliver world-class animal welfare services. 

Lee Gingell, public affairs manager for local government at the RSPCA said: “We’re really excited to announce that applications for the prestigious RSPCA PawPrints awards are now open. 

“Local Authorities, housing providers, contingency planners and others play a huge role in the delivery of animal welfare; many of them doing incredible work in the face of steep challenges. Often this amazing work is done quietly behind the scenes and remains unsung. PawPrints is all about recognising and celebrating these efforts and we’re very proud of the awards scheme. 

“Over the last 15 years we have handed out nearly 1,500 awards and we are looking forward to celebrating new triumphs this year.”

The awards are split into five categories: stray dog services, housing, contingency planning, animal activity licensing, and kenneling. Each category has three levels: bronze, silver and gold – with each carrying progressively more challenging criteria. 

There are also two special awards; the ‘Special Recognition’ and ‘Innovator’ awards. The Innovator in Animal Welfare award looks for inspirational and pioneering entries that demonstrate how an animal welfare issue has been tackled in an innovative and imaginative way, and the Special Recognition award recognises individuals or organisations who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and dedication to animal welfare over the last year. 

Local authorities are not restricted on the number of awards they can apply for. They can receive awards in multiple categories to fully recognise the value and variety of animal welfare services they deliver. 

Animal Welfare Minister, Lord Benyon, said: “I am delighted to support the Pawprints initiative and celebrate those who have gone above and beyond to champion animal welfare.

“It is due to the great work of local authorities that we can successfully offer animals the care and protection they deserve. I encourage those with exceptional stories to nominate teams or individuals for an award.”

Last year, the RSPCA handed out over 70 awards to over 50 different public sector organisations.

“We can achieve so much more by working together for animal welfare,” Lee continued. 

“Our partnerships with local authorities and other public sector organisations are integral to reclaiming our place as the global leader in animal welfare. Together, we can create a world where all animals are respected and treated with kindness and compassion. 

“The awards also provide an invaluable chance to inspire others to think about their animal welfare services and encourage decision-makers to consider and value the vital role local authorities play in protecting animal welfare. In tough financial times, this is more important than ever. We are keen to work with all public bodies aspiring to meet the criteria for an award and hope to see even more entrants this year.” 

Local authorities and other public bodies can apply for an award via the RSPCA’s dedicated Pawprints webpage. Organisations have until Friday 7 July to apply online. Winners of the Awards will be announced on Friday 18 August 2023 and invited to a reception to celebrate awardees in the autumn. 

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