A new £2 million pet hospital which will be able to treat more than 9,000 sick and injured animals a year has been opened to serve areas of the Westcountry.
The PDSA's Gwen Rees Centre, based in William Prance Road, Derriford, is thought to be the largest PDSA hospital of its kind. It has opened its doors to provide free veterinary treatment to animals of people in need.
The ribbon was cut by PDSA chairman, Michael Bolton who joined staff, pet owners and potential patients to christen the new building.
The facility replaces PDSA's former animal hospital on Durnford Street, in Stonehouse, Plymouth, which originally opened in 1973 and was struggling to cope with a 45% rise in pet patient numbers since 2007.
The charity's Director General, Jan McLoughlin said the PDSA provided an essential lifeline to pet owners across the country.
He said: "This new hospital will make a huge difference to thousands of local people and their beloved pets, and I am delighted to be declaring it officially open."
PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Robert Newcombe, will oversee the treatment of around 9,000 sick and injured pets a year and said the new £2m hospital was a vast improvement on the old one.
He said: "It's a lovely, comfortable building. The word I've been using is 'civilised' because the old building – where I worked for 17 years – looked like a grey battleship and as it was so cramped you were constantly having a traffic of people going past while you were doing consults. There's about three times as much space here which is better for the staff, the owners and the pets themselves.
"The animals can be more spread out in the waiting room and less stressed as they are not on top of each other. As a result the animals are more relaxed so they are a lot less stressed when they get into the consulting rooms."
He said the new hospital had come about after "a tremendous amount of fundraising" which would still continue to help pay the £800,000 to £1m running costs a year.
It hopes to treat around 110 pets every working day and provide 55,000 veterinary treatments annually, ranging from emergency operations to preventive procedures such as neutering and vaccinations.
To be eligible for treatment, pet owners must be in receipt of either council tax benefit or housing benefit and live within postcode areas PL1 to PL12 and PL17 to 21.