FUNDRAISING NEWS: Campaign Watch - Just breaking

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Animal welfare charity The Blue Cross has launched a campaign to fund its pet ambulance service.

The ambulance service exists to help housebound pet owners who cannot afford a private vet in and around the south London area. Every day, the ambulances pick up sick and injured pets from their owners, take them to a local Blue Cross hospital and then return them after treatment.

The Ambulance Appeal campaign started on 4 August with an initial mailing to 125,000 donors.

It features the story of two dogs, Betsy and Lady, who need regular check-ups with the vet for their skin problems. Their owner, who needs to use a walking stick and cannot manage the journey to the clinic, depends on the services provided by The Blue Cross.

There is a £20 cost every time the ambulance is called out, in addition to the cost of the treatment. Donors are told that by making a donation of £15 or more they can help the charity to continue to run its ambulance service. "We receive no government funding so we are relying totally on the generosity of our friends," said Fred Bancroft, head of hospitals' administration at The Blue Cross.

The second mailing is a reminder pack which was sent out on 18 August.

It tells the story of Ginger the cat who travelled from the hospital to a Blue Cross adoption centre when her elderly owner had to have her re-homed.

"Without this vital service and the veterinary care provided at Blue Cross hospitals, many elderly and disabled owners simply couldn't manage to get the necessary treatment for their sick and injured animals," said Bancroft.

The campaign also aims to inform donors about The Blue Cross. "In 2002, Blue Cross ambulances responded to more than 4,000 calls from housebound pet owners. If campaigns like this one were not run, many of the charity's donors might not know about the services that they help to fund," said James Middlehurst, senior account manager at WWAV Rapp Collins, the marketing agency that was appointed by the charity to develop the campaign.

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