Sir David Amess's beloved pet named top dog at Westminster Dog of the Year

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Vivienne, a French Bulldog, was crowned the winner on Thursday morning as attendees held a minute’s silence for Sir David Amess

Sir David Amess’s dog has won the Westminster Dog of the Year competition, as MPs and others paid tribute to his work on animal welfare in the wake of his death.

Vivienne, a French Bulldog, was awarded first place on Thursday morning, with attendees holding a minute’s silence for her owner.

Sir David was a fierce campaigner for animal rights and a veteran of the Westminster Dog of the Year competition, but had never won the event.

He was killed in a knife attack at a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, earlier this month.

Sir David’s dog was escorted by two of his closest friends in Parliament, the Conservative MPs Mark Francois and Andrew Rosindell.

Vivienne with Andrew Rosindell and Mark Francois, who said Sir David would have been pleased that his pet had won – Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph

Vivienne shows some bulldog spirit following the win – Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph

The competition is decided by a public ballot, and Vivienne won by tens of thousands of votes, organisers said.

Mr Francois told The Telegraph: “David Amess was a great animal lover, and he will be pleased that Vivienne has won.

“We’d like to comfort ourselves with the thought that he is in Heaven, looking down and smiling. And knowing David, whatever the rules are in Heaven, he’ll have already started to break some of them.

“Between us, Andrew and I would like to thank everyone who voted for Vivienne. We are extremely grateful.”

Mr Rosindell said: “It’s wonderful for the city of Southend and it’s wonderful that in David’s memory, Vivienne has won this competition.”

Second place in the competition was awarded to Stanley, a border terrier, owned by Edward Argar, the Tory MP for Charnwood. Third place was given to Henry, a Labrador owned by Selaine Saxby, the MP for North Devon.

Running since 1992, the Westminster Dog of the Year competition is a fixture in the political calendar, but has been cancelled for the past two years because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sir David came close to winning Westminster Dog of the Year before, having missed out in 2013 with Lilly and Bo – Heathcliff O’Malley for The Telegraph

Vivienne taking first place, flanked by Edward Argar’s pet Stanley in second (left) and Selaine Saxby’s dog Henry in third (right) – Twitter/Tony Diver

Owen Sharp, the chief executive of the Dogs Trust and a competition judge, said: “It’s been great to have this competition today because we haven’t been able to have it for a couple of years and we were missing it.

“After David’s tragic death, we had to think about that. But it felt like a fitting tribute to him as someone who was such a big champion of dog welfare.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate dog welfare, and what parliamentarians do for dog welfare, but most importantly to celebrate the life of Sir David.”

Mark Beazley, the chief executive of the Kennel Club, added: “If he had had his way, he would have wanted this event to take place. Over the years, he has taken part and done so much in his parliamentary career to bring forward legislation that benefits dogs.”

Mr Beazley added that the event demonstrated the “unique bond between dogs and people” and promoted animal welfare more generally.

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