Westminster dog of year title goes to David Amess’s French bulldog

Less than two weeks after the murder of Sir David Amess, the Conservative MP for Southend West, his French bulldog, Vivienne, has been named Westminster dog of the year.

Amess, who was stabbed to death while holding a constituency surgery, had nominated his pet for the title, saying she had a generous nature.

“If I am feeling down, the dog lifts my spirits as she is always pleased to see me and she makes me smile,” his nomination said.

“Every time I walk into the room, Vivienne throws herself at me, lies on her back with her legs in the air to be tickled. But before that she always brings a toy so she is of a generous, giving nature.”

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The Dogs Trust, which runs the annual award celebrating the bond between parliamentarians and their pets with the Kennel Club, said Vivienne was a fitting winner “in memory of Sir David Amess, a devoted animal lover”.The three-year-old French bulldog had won the backing of both the judges and tens of thousands of members of the public after appeals on social media to pay tribute to the murdered MP by casting online votes.Vivienne was accompanied by the Conservative MPs Andrew Rosindell and Mark Francois to collect the honour. “No one loved animals like David, and no one loved their dog like David. I could not feel more sadness at the fact that it will be me chaperoning Vivienne, his dog, at the dog of the year, instead of him, but I also could not feel more pride to be able to pay tribute to him in this small way,” said Rosindell.

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The prime minister congratulated Vivienne, tweeting: “David would have been very proud.”
Sir David Amess obituary

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Some rivals for the title had urged dog lovers to support Vivienne instead of their own pooches. Anna McMorrin, the Labour MP for Cardiff North, who entered her dog Cadi, said: “As much as we all love Cadi, please support me by voting for Sir David Amess and his beautiful French bulldog, Vivienne. David’s love for animals was unmatched. He will be sorely missed.”Suzanne Webb, the Conservative MP for Stourbridge, whose dog Sid was competing, also urged people to vote for Vivienne.

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Amess was known at Westminster and in his constituency for his love of animals. He campaigned to stop the testing of domestic products on animals, tackled the illegal wildlife trade and fought for an end to puppy farming, according to his website.He opposed the culling of badgers and was one of the few Tory MPs in favour of a foxhunting ban.In his most recent Commons intervention, on 23 September, he called for a debate on “animal welfare generally, cruelty to animals and the welfare of farmyard animals” to mark World Animal Day on 4 October.

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He was frequently a judge at local dog shows and supported local animal charities.