Political canine candidate Coco is crowned Senedd Dog of the Year

Coco & Jack Sargeant, Welsh Labour MS for Alyn and Deeside

Coco, a three-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has today been crowned winner of the inaugural Senedd Dog of the Year competition.

Coco, who entered the event with Jack Sargeant, Welsh Labour MS for Alyn and Deeside, impressed the judges with her loveable character as well as their strong bond with Jack Sargeant MS.

The Senedd Dog of the Year competition, organised by The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust, took place for the first time today in Britannia Park, Cardiff. Coco showed dogged determination as she battled it out to defeat other ‘paw-litical’ opponents to win the coveted title of Senedd Dog of the Year, arguably the most sought-after accolade in Welsh politics.

Winning MS, Jack Sargeant said of their winning moment: “It’s absolutely fantastic to be crowned Senedd Dog of the Year with the wonderful Coco. She’s a real companion animal to me, I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

This year’s competition focused on promoting responsible dog ownership, making sure that owners recognise the responsibility they have to ensure their pet is a positive member of the community and is able to live a happy and healthy life. The event also encourages an open dialogue on dog welfare issues, as well as providing an opportunity for MSs to meet with experts to discuss all aspects of the canine world.

The judging panel – Dr Ed Hayes, Head of Public Affairs at The Kennel Club and Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director at Dogs Trust - spent the morning with dogs from different political persuasions and ambitions.
Commenting on the reason Coco was selected as the 2024 Senedd Dog of the Year, Dr Ed Hayes said: “Congratulations to Coco and Jack Sargeant MS for being crowned the very first winners of Senedd Dog of the Year! The bond between the pair was clear to see in the ring today.

“There was strong competition from all the competing MSs and their dogs and we’d like to thank all those who took part. Senedd Dog of the Year is a fantastic way to raise awareness of the issues currently affecting the nation’s dogs.”

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director at Dogs Trust added: “From our rehoming centres in Cardiff and Bridgend, community activities and to our outreach services such as Freedom and Together Through Homelessness, our work in Wales is an incredibly important part of the wider Dogs Trust picture. Therefore, it's only fitting we finally bring the Dog of the Year event to the Senedd as well.

“We're delighted with the response, from the public as well as the entrants, and are grateful for this opportunity to highlight responsible dog ownership, meet some lovely dogs and discuss the challenges dog owners are facing. We are already looking forward to the next Senedd Dog of the Year as we build this wonderful tradition.”

Prior to the event, MSs entering the competition campaigned hard, canvassing for votes from the public via an online vote before meeting the expert judges to share their dog’s heroic deeds and acts of devotion. Winner of the ‘pawblic’ vote was announced as Bonnie, a Cocker Spaniel, owned by James Evans, Welsh Conservative Party MS for Brecon and Radnorshire.
James Evans MS, winner of the public vote said of their win: “It feels amazing to win the public vote, it’s not just about me and Bonnie, this is really about highlighting dog welfare as well as responsible dog ownership. Hopefully with Jack and Coco winning overall, and me and Bonnie winning the public vote, we can do as much as we can to really highlight dog welfare right across Wales.”