Maine Coon Darwin and whippet cross Scout have been named the Royal Canin Rescue Cat and Dog of the Year respectively. Rescue cats and dogs were entered into the competition run via Royal Canin Facebook page, and Darwin and Scout both romped home with a massive vote!
Darwin and Scout have each received a hamper of goodies, while the rescue centre they came from receives enough food for up to 50 dogs or cats for a month.
Suzy Roffey, Rayal Canin National Sales Manager PRO, says: “This is the fifth year of the competition, and the first time we’ve opened it up to dogs as well. Our aim is to drive awareness and provide support for the many rescue centres we work with throughout the UK, as well as another way of driving footfall into the specialist pet trade. It’s also very rewarding for us, as animal lovers, to be able to know that rescue dogs and cats are getting the benefit of health nutrition, both while they are in rescue and when they move on to their forever homes.”
Five year old Darwin lives with Alison and Mark Ware at TC’s Forever Home, the cat sanctuary they couple have devoted their lives to in Dundrum, Co. Down. As one of currently 19 cats, all of whom have been adopted because they are elderly, disabled, have special needs or are terminally ill, Darwin’s role is to help settle new cats in and provide nurturing for any cat who needs it. Alison and Mark adopted Darwin when he was six months old and his elderly owners could no longer cope with him.
Darwin’s story began in April this year, when he was shot in the face with a shotgun, suffering extensive facial damage. The lead shot blew a hole in the roof of his mouth up into his face, shattering his upper jaw and gum so that there was nothing left on the upper left side. Darwin underwent several operations and almost died in Alison’s arms twice, but he and the vets fought incredibly hard, and 12 weeks to the day since his accident Darwin was fully recovered – apart from a little ‘Elvis’ lip and a tendency to dribble it is impossible to believe he was so badly hurt. Social media has given Darwin worldwide support, with his story featuring on Instagram as #toughestcatintheworld and #fightfordarwin.
Alison says: “We are so proud of Darwin, he’s come through so much and still remained his magnificent, beautiful self. He really is a very special cat, and clearly sees himself as having a duty to look after us and the other cats, especially when a new one arrives.
“To have won enough food for a month is a significant prize for us – we are part of the local cat rescue community, and we usually fundraise through things like car boot sales and quiz nights for everything we need. Feeding 19 cats a month is a huge element of our costs, and because our cats are all quite sensitive in different ways we put huge emphasis on top quality food.”
Seven year old Scout now lives with vet nurse Tracey Ison and her husband Paul in Hinckley, after being rehomed aged six months from East Midlands Dog Rescue.
Scout’s life didn’t start well: picked up as a stray, tiny puppy in County Durham, it was initially thought that he was blind and deaf. He also had mange and kennel cough. Euthanasia was considered on the grounds of his many issues and potential of being difficult to find a home for. However three amazing rescue organisations worked together to save his life, and it was love at first sight for Tracey and Paul when they met him at East Midlands Dog Rescue.
Tracey says: “Although not deaf, Scout is almost completely blind but he doesn’t let this hold him back one bit. We promised him as normal a life as possible and this is exactly what he has. Scout has climbed mountains and paddled in the sea, he has achieved his Bronze Good Citizens award and has even tried his paw at agility."