We go behind the scenes at Blackpool’s PDSA Hospital to meet vets and their patients

Behind the scenes at PDSA animal hospital
Behind the scenes at PDSA animal hospital
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Collie cross Lady is nearly 17 and sits calmly as vet Malwina checks her over.

Lady needs some teeth taken out and will have to be brought back to have her treatment under 

Behind the scenes at PDSA animal hospital.  Surgeon Malwina Krajewska with Debbie Blackburn and Lady.

Behind the scenes at PDSA animal hospital. Surgeon Malwina Krajewska with Debbie Blackburn and Lady.

It will be an expensive procedure, but thanks to the PDSA this much-loved pet will not have to miss out on the care she needs.

She is just one of thousands of animals who are seen at the PDSA’s animal hospital in Blackpool which first opened its doors in the resort nearly 25 years ago.

It is one of 51 pet hospitals operated by the charity which has been a lifeline for sick and injured pets in this country since 1917.

Animal welfare pioneer Maria Dickin founded the organisation in response to poverty she witnessed in London.

Visiting families in the East End, she was distressed also to see the suffering of dogs and cats whose owners could not afford to pay for treatment.

Sadly in today’s world, there are still many people whose financial situation means they cannot afford expensive veterinary care.

The only option may be to put an animal to sleep even though medical intervention could save it.

But thanks to the PDSA, these pets’ future do not have to be determined soley by affordability.

Behind the scenes at PDSA animal hospital.  Surgeon Terry Ogdin with Alfie.

Behind the scenes at PDSA animal hospital. Surgeon Terry Ogdin with Alfie.

Here in Blackpool a dedicated team of six vets and six nurses makes sure that is not the case.

Owners must be in receipt of some form of means-tested benefit to be eligible for free treatment for their pets, but many also give what they can in donations.

Lady’s owner Debbie Blackburn, from Thornton, says: “I have been coming here with my animals for a number of years, and the staff are fantastic.

“Lady is good company for me because I spend so many hours on my own at home.

Behind the scenes at PDSA animal hospital.  Nurse Jenni Hall with cat Marmalade.

Behind the scenes at PDSA animal hospital. Nurse Jenni Hall with cat Marmalade.

“But she needs treatment for rheumatism, and regular eye drops and I couldn’t manage financially without the PDSA.

“In return I try and help raise funds for them because for a lot of pet owners the PDSA is a godsend.”

Staffie dog Trick is also a valued and cherished family member.

His owner Catherine Foster, of Central Drive, Blackpool, brought him in when he seemed lethargic and was not eating.

An X-ray has shown up a mass on his chest which vets have diagnosed as lymphoma.

Thankfully it is manageable and Trick, who is 10-and-a-half will be put on medication.

Catherine said: “A few years ago he cut his paw pad open and he would have lost it but the vets here had just started using a new gel and were able to treat him.

“This time he is going to need a monthly steroid to keep his immune system up.

“If we didn’t have the PDSA we would be stuck, and we give a monthly donation towards his treatment.

“Trick is also a care dog for my husband who has dementia, so he’s an important member of our family.”

As well as consulting rooms the animal hospital has two operating theatres, a pre-op room and recovery areas for dogs and cats where they are cared for until their owners collect them.

One important role is to neuter animals in order to prevent unwanted puppies and kittens being born.

One-year-old ginger tom Marmalade is among the cats in recovery after his op.

PDSA vet nurse Jenni Hall, who is looking after him, said: “The spaying operation took about 40 minutes and I have been sitting with Marmalade until he woke up from the operation.

“We make sure the animals are fully recovered, that their temperature is normal and the wound is not bleeding and then they can go home with their


On an average day the PDSA animal hospital in Blackpool treats between 120 and 150 sick pets.

As well as scheduled operations, there can be three or four emergencies a day ranging from animals hit by cars to those suffering from fits or breathing difficulties.

Currently there is also a major drive to promote neutering of cat, after the charity received a major bequest to help make the procedure affordable.

Vet Terry Ogdin said: “One of the things we are trying to do is make a bigger difference through education, for example with worming and neutering programmes, and advice on feeding and nutrition.

“For example we have our annual Pet Fit competition aimed at tackling obesity with brings huge risks to an animal’s health.

“Education can make a big difference to a pet’s welfare.”

Owners are means tested before they can access PDSA services, and the hospital covers residents with an FY postcode plus some Preston postcodes covering areas such as Kirkham and Freckleton.

The next nearest PDSA hospitals are in Liverpool and Manchester. although there are also PDSA recognised pet practices.

But the charity hopes even those lucky enough not to need its services will donate in order to help all animals in need.

Terry added: “People’s financial circumstances can change at any time, for example if they lose their job, and they can suddenly find themselves unable to afford a private vet.

“Their only option then may be to put a pet to sleep because they cannot afford treatment.

“But we are here for those people.

“The vast majority of our clients are really grateful for the help we give.”

PDSA treats 470,000 pets very year

300,000 pet owners are supported

It costs more than £60m to provide our veterinary care each year

PDSA was founded by Maria Dickin who opened her first clinic named ‘The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals of the Poor’ on November 17 1917

People can donate in a number of ways:

They can visit the website: www.pdsa.org.uk/donate where people can give a one-off donation, regular contributions, or sponsor a pet.

Pet hospitals also accept one-off donations.

In addition, there is a PDSA charity shop on Talbot Road in Blackpool.

Read more about the pdsa here