PetSavers was set up in 1974 by BSAVA members as the Clinical Studies Trust Fund. To celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2024, we’ve put together a timeline to show the key events of our history.
Where it all began
The Clinical Studies Trust Fund (CSTF) was set up by members of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) who saw the need for a charity that would fund studies into the many unsolved companion animal medical and surgical problems.
The first grant
The first grant of £1,225 was awarded to David Bennett at the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine, to investigate immune-mediated joint diseases in dogs. David’s work led to the first identification of a canine rheumatoid arthritis, which would prove to be a much rarer condition in dogs than in humans. Developing the tests produced considerable welfare benefits as the animal’s pain could be greatly ameliorated through treatment with immunosuppressive drugs.
Initially the CSTF relied entirely upon generosity from within the veterinary profession. Later, fundraising activities were directed towards the pet-owning public, particularly by promotion through breed clubs, shows and symposia. To further this aim, the title “Petsaver” was registered as a business name in late 1979.
When a parvovirus outbreak struck the dog population in 1980, we launched a special appeal and were able to allocate £24,000 of funding to a team carrying out research into the disease at the University of Glasgow.
The first funded residency
Joanna Morris was awarded our first veterinary residency which was undertaken at the University of Cambridge Veterinary School in Clinical Oncology.
It's all in a name
We changed our name from the Clinical Studies Trust Fund to PetSavers.
Our silver jubilee
We celebrated our 25th anniversary by awarding the PetSavers Silver Jubilee PhD studentship to Professor David Bennett for research into a novel therapy for treating canine osteoarthritis.
The first master's degree
We funded our first Master’s Degree by Research, which was awarded to Gina Pinchbeck to investigate the prevalence and risk factors for extended-spectrum beta lactamase-producing bacteria in companion animals.
Encouraging undergraduate research
To commemorate our 40th anniversary, we introduced the Student Research Project as a new grant type. This gave undergraduate vets (and now vet nurses and biovet students) the chance to undertake a short project giving them a taste of research life. It is now one of our most popular grants.
Introducing the research fellowship
Under our new name BSAVA PetSavers, which recognises the fact that we are part of the BSAVA, we awarded our first ever Research Fellowship to An Vanhaesebrouck at the University of Cambridge to explore the use of cell-based assays to detect myasthenia gravis in dogs. We also launched the Ageing Canine Toolkit, based on research we funded at the University of Liverpool into the care of senior dogs.