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Last Updated: Monday, 26 April, 2004, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
MPs in the doghouse for charity
Becky Jago and Liz Bonnin with RSPCA rescue dogs
Celebrities and three MPs were locked in a giant kennel
Three MPs have been locked up with celebrities and guarded by dogs in a stunt to raise money for the RSPCA.

MPs Paul Burstow, Evan Harris and Ivan Henderson shared a giant kennel with personalities including Liza Goddard.

They were guarded by RSPCA inspectors and rescue dogs as they used their mobile phones to try to raise sponsorship to secure their release.

Monday's event in Covent Garden, London, started the annual RSPCA Week to raise awareness and funds.

This year's theme is rehoming - in the past year alone the charity rehomed nearly 70,000 animals.

Mr Burstow and Dr Harris, Liberal Democrat MPs for Sutton and Cheam and Oxford West and Abingdon respectively, and Mr Henderson, Labour MP for Harwich, were joined behind bars by RSPCA director general Jackie Ballard.

A staggering number of pets are left abandoned, unwanted and neglected each year throughout the UK
Jackie Ballard, RSPCA director general

She said: "A staggering number of pets are left abandoned, unwanted and neglected each year throughout the UK and RSPCA rescue centres are bursting with animals desperately looking for new loving homes."

Presenter Liz Bonnin, actress Liza Goddard, BBC Newsround presenter Lizzie Greenwood and Becky Jago from Capital FM's breakfast show were also locked up in the kennel.

Hundreds of RSPCA staff and volunteers from the charity's branches across the UK will hold similar kennel lock-ins and fundraising events in the course of the next week.

This year the RSPCA will be pressing the government to enshrine a "duty of care" in the forthcoming Animal Welfare Bill, which would mean pet owners have a legal responsibility to care for their animal.

The charity claims it is hampered under current animal cruelty laws because pets actually have to be suffering before any action can be taken against owners.

Ms Ballard said: "We hope this will help stamp out irresponsible pet ownership and cruelty and better educate people about the needs of our animals."

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