I HAVE always been an animal lover.

Pets provide a great many people with a priceless companionship and it is important that we give them the care and protection they deserve.

The lifestyle of an MP, dividing my time between two locations, means I could not give a pet the care, love and attention they need.

I do try though, to the best of my ability, to help in any way I can for the wellbeing of all animals. 

I believe it is important to remember the vital work that animals, such as dogs, can do.

On Wednesday I went to an event in aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, a charity which has been doing invaluable work for more than seventy five years. 

It was inspiring to meet people who were passionate in their jobs as trainers and carers for the dogs which do so much for the blind.

Being visually impaired is such a challenging disability, and this service is irreplaceable.

Their in-house research is helping pave the way for more efficient services for canine assistance. 

They also aid the blind and partially sighted with rehabilitation schemes, including helping with communication and daily living skills which helps to build confidence. 

The charity also campaigns for equal rights on behalf of the visually impaired and it was really a pleasure to learn more about their work.

Given the warm feeling I left that meeting with, it is very disheartening, to see and hear about the mistreatment of pets.

Last weekend I had a chat with a representative from the RSPCA centre on Division Lane who updated me on the great work they do to look after abandoned animals.

I was dismayed to hear that during the recession, the number of animals being abandoned had sharply risen; as people felt unable to financially support their pets.

In these hard economic times it is still important to consider the welfare of all animals and I hope to visit the centre soon, to look at ways I can help promote their cause further.

The old saying still rings true, a pet is not just for Christmas, it is for life.

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