People's Dispensary for Sick Animals

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People's Dispensary for Sick Animals
PDSA Pets in Need of Vets.png
Founded 1917
Founder Maria Dickin
Focus Animals
Area served United Kingdom

The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) is a veterinary charity in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1917 by Maria Dickin to provide care for sick and injured animals of the poor. It is the UK's leading veterinary charity, carrying out more than one million free veterinary consultations a year, and is the largest private employer of fully qualified veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in the UK.

Foundation and development[edit]

During World War I, animal welfare pioneer Maria Dickin worked to improve the dreadful state of animal health in the Whitechapel area of London. She wanted to open a clinic where East Enders living in poverty could receive free treatment for their sick and injured animals. Despite widespread scepticism, she opened her free "dispensary" in a Whitechapel basement on Saturday 17 November 1917. It was an immediate success and she was soon forced to find larger premises.

Within six years, Dickin had designed and equipped her first horse-drawn clinic, and soon a fleet of mobile dispensaries was established. PDSA vehicles soon became a comforting and familiar sight throughout the country. Eventually, PDSA's role was defined by two Acts of Parliament, in 1949 and 1956, that continue to govern its activities today.

PDSA Dickin Medal[edit]

Maria Dickin instituted the Dickin Medal in 1943 to acknowledges outstanding acts of bravery by animals serving with the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units. It has become recognised as the animals' Victoria Cross, and is administered by PDSA. The PDSA created a second animal bravery award, the PDSA Gold Medal, in 2002, which is now recognised as the animal equivalent of the George Cross.

PDSA Pet Fit Club[edit]

PDSA run an annual search called Pet Fit Club [1] to find the UK’s most overweight pets with the worst diets. They then help them slim down with a six month diet and exercise programme overseen by PDSA veterinary staff. Pet Fit Club began in 2005 and has since helped many pets slim down and get fit as part of this pet slimming competition.

Eligibility requirements[edit]

Today, treatment is only available to the pets of those in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit. For those eligible, treatment for sick and injured animals is free of charge. Recently, the PDSA started providing eligible pet owners with preventative services such as neutering, vaccinations and microchipping. These services are the only treatments that are not free; however, they are offered at cost price.

Although there is no cost for all treatments except for those of a preventative nature, PDSA asks clients to make a donation of whatever they can afford towards the treatment of their animal.

Currently, PDSA is able to offer its services to 75% of eligible people, and has plans to increase this to 80% over the coming year.[2]

In May 2009 the PDSA began requesting a donation on checking the animal in for treatment.

Areas of operation[edit]

PDSA operates throughout Great Britain through animal hospitals and practices; a vast network of charity shops support the organisation. It has one animal hospital in Northern Ireland, the catchment area of which covers much of the area East of the Bann. Although further hospitals are not currently planned for that region, some services through private clinics may be offered, and a charity shop is due to open in March 2007 in Lisburn. The charity's Head Office is based in Telford, Shropshire.

In 1937, a branch of the PDSA was founded in District Six, South Africa, which at the time was a poverty-stricken area of Cape Town. In 1988, the organization became autonomous but maintains a strong link with the mother society in the United Kingdom and a great deal of information is exchanged between them.[3]

Celebrity Ambassadors[edit]

Roobarb and Custard Partnership[edit]

In 2012 Bulldog Licensing, the brand licensing agency for Roobarb & Custard, pledged a long-term link with PDSA to help raise £1m. The characters have already appeared on a range of PDSA T-shirts, modelled and supported by singer and TV presenter Alesha Dixon.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Annual Report, 2005" (PDF). PDSA. Retrieved 2007-04-04. [dead link]
  3. ^ PDSA South Africa

External links[edit]