The chief executive of the UK’s largest dog welfare charity is stepping down after 40 years at the organisation.

Clarissa Baldwin – who was awarded an OBE in 2003 for her work to improve animal welfare – is to retire at the end of October. She has been chief executive of Dogs Trust since 1986, after joining the trust in 1974 as head of public relations.

Ms Baldwin developed and launched the charity’s slogan “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas“, which has just reached its 35th milestone. She also saw eight state of the art and innovative rehoming centres in the UK and Dublin built, enabling the charity to save the lives of more than 100,000 dogs.

Today, the charity cares for around 16,000 dogs a year and has a staff of more than 800. It is is now active in 10 countries and as well as being an active rehoming charity, aims to work within the community and alongside Government to deal with animal welfare issues.

Ms Baldwin said it was with a “heavy heart” she decided to step down. “I know everyone at the charity and our dog-loving supporters will continue to work tirelessly for improvements in life for our four-legged friends,” she said.

“It has been such a very great privilege to have held this role for such a long time and to have been entrusted with the charity’s growth and development.

“My aim has always been to ensure all dogs, regardless of breed, have access to loving homes and are treated fairly and humanely. I hope we can still work towards a day where all dogs will be free from the threat of unnecessary destruction. I am extremely proud of the many talented and passionate people I have worked with over the years who continue to strive towards this end goal.”

Clarissa will be succeeded by deputy chief executive and marketing director Adrian Burder, who was the “unanimous choice” for the position, said the charity.

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