CHAIRMAN’S 2013 AGM SPEECH
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to the 2013 Dogs Trust Annual General Meeting.
I usually end my AGM speech on a note of thanks to our supporters.
But this year, I thought it would be appropriate to place those thanks at the very start of proceedings.
And I do that for one simple reason. Without the great loyalty and generosity of our members, donors, sponsors, re-homers and volunteers we would not be able to save a single dog.
So, on behalf of all the staff, trustees and, of course, dogs at Dogs Trust, I say a huge thank you to you all.
The extraordinary commitment of our supporters has allowed a veritable revolution to take place at Dogs Trust during the 21st Century.
Already this Century, we have been able to:
- Build 7 new state-of-the-art rehoming centres
- Completely rebuild 7 of our older centres
- Prepare for 2 new centres coming on line in 2014 – at Basildon and Manchester.
Thanks to such near miraculous levels of development, between 2000 and 2012 we were able to save an incredible 185,212 stray and abandoned dogs – including a record breaking 16,879 last year.
It was also at the turn of the century that our practical campaigns to promote responsible dog ownership really took off. Since then we have:
- Microchipped over 600,000 dogs
- Neutered over 500,000 dogs and
- Conducted over 18,000 school classroom presentations
It is worth noting that prior to 1999, we only neutered and micro-chipped our own dogs and had no Education Officers at all. So, to reach such heights of activity in such a short space of time really is remarkable.
This work is playing a vital role in reducing the numbers of dogs destroyed in pounds in both the UK, and Ireland. In the UK the numbers of stray and abandoned dogs destroyed in pounds annually has reduced by around 60% in the 21st Century. Whilst in Ireland, the fall has been over 80%. Those statistics should give great hope to everyone involved in dog welfare.
Perhaps the only statistic that remains constant each year is the number of healthy dogs we have destroyed – zero.
These really are huge achievements – all made possible by the kindness of Dogs Trust supporters. Everybody who has dropped a £ into a Dogs Trust collection box, sold, or bought, one of our raffle tickets, volunteered their time, set up a direct debit, left a bequest, rehomed or sponsored a dog has made this revolution in dog welfare possible.
And it’s a revolution we wish to see continue until we’ve accomplished our mission and brought about the day when no dog is destroyed for want of a loving home.
So what of the future?
Well, as ever, our number one priority is to save and rehome as many dogs as possible. Our new centres at Basildon and Manchester will play a vital part in this. We estimate that a further 2,500 dogs a year will be saved once these centres are operational.
We’re also planning a major expansion of our youth education work to ensure that the next generations of dog owners will be fully aware of their responsibilities towards man’s best friend.
On a local level, we’ll continue our neutering and microchipping campaigns, as we firmly believe that “prevention is better than cure”. Chipping will become even more important now that it is to become compulsory in both England and Wales. In order to ensure that compulsory chipping laws get off to the best possible start, Dogs Trust has already stepped up our free chipping campaigns and will be doing even more in the next couple of years. This reflects our determination to ensure that the vast majority of stray dogs can be re-united quickly with their owners.
So the revolution goes on!
I mentioned that this huge expansion of our work would not have been possible without the great kindness of our donors and volunteers. And that’s true. But we are also greatly indebted to a whole host of other people who have helped us do so much for dog welfare: My special thanks go to…
- The wonderful veterinarians who so generously help us to offer subsidised or free neutering and micro-chipping campaigns.
- The dog wardens and other local authority workers who support our community based campaigns.
- The teachers who bring our Education Officers into schools.
- And, of course, Dogs Trust staff across the UK and Ireland whose dedication and passion for dog welfare ensures we can go the extra mile for the dogs that need our help.
We really do appreciate all that you do.
Finally, I would like to offer thanks to… the dogs themselves. And to them I simply say “Thank you for enriching our lives beyond measure. In return for your unconditional loyalty, we promise that we will work unstintingly for your welfare”.