Marking 100 years of helping pets

Zoe, a three-year-old Chihuahua enjoying the 80th  birthday party at the PDSA Veterinary Centre , Hawes Side Lane, Blackpool, in 1997. Holding the cake is trainee nurse Anna Thompson.
Zoe, a three-year-old Chihuahua enjoying the 80th birthday party at the PDSA Veterinary Centre , Hawes Side Lane, Blackpool, in 1997. Holding the cake is trainee nurse Anna Thompson.
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Pet well-being charity PDSA, which runs the Pet Hospital in Hawes Side Lane, Blackpool, turns 100 today.

It was on this date in 1917 the charity’s founder, Maria Dickin, first set up a dispensary for sick animals of the poor in London’s East End.

PDSA on Hawes Side Lane in June 1992

PDSA on Hawes Side Lane in June 1992

From the first basic dispensary in London’s Whitechapel, Maria took PDSA to other towns and cities by way of a horse-drawn ambulance, treating animals and educating adults and children in the proper care of them.

During the 1920s and 30s, motorised dispensaries were covering up to 80 miles each day and permanent clinics were later established in towns and cities countrywide, of which Blackpool was one.

The first mention of PDSA centre in Blackpool is contained in the 1950 annual report, which lists an address at 316 Church Street. The following year, the site treated 11,912 cases and a mobile ambulance unit was also in operation. The centre was not mentioned again until 1978, when reconstruction work was carried out.

In October 1991, construction work began on the new Hawes Side Lane site – PDSA’s current home in Blackpool. The centre opened on June 1, 1992, with plans to provide around 7,000 treatments a year. The facility cost £250,000 to build and £50,000 to equip and boasted three consulting rooms, two operating theatres, canine and feline recovery kennels, an X-ray room and isolation facilities. The official opening was performed on April 17, 1993, by Roly Poly stars Mo Moreland and Marie Ashton.

Veterinary Nurse Jo Smalley shows her dog Summer a book on canine anatomy

Veterinary Nurse Jo Smalley shows her dog Summer a book on canine anatomy

During the 90s the annual caseload more than doubled from 7,910 to 16,134 as more pet patients were treated by the charity. By 2007, the caseload was 36,000 free treatments a year, including around 900 surgical procedures.

Today, the Blackpool PDSA Pet Hospital provides more than 70,000 treatments every year and sees around 109 pets on an average day. The service in Blackpool costs PDSA over £900,000 to deliver annually, and the charity relies entirely on public support.

An early horse-drawn mobile dispensary

An early horse-drawn mobile dispensary

Queue of children with their pets

Queue of children with their pets

Portrait of Maria Dickin CBE, founder of the PDSA charity

Portrait of Maria Dickin CBE, founder of the PDSA charity