An Edgware woman whose dog became the first canine victim of the MRSA superbug last year launched a charity on Tuesday to tackle growing infection rates among small animals.

Jill Moss, of Edgwarebury Gardens, Edgware, received thousands of messages from concerned pet owners after a ten-year-old Samoyed, named Bella, died of the drug-resistant MRSA, and she now hopes the Bella Moss Foundation charity will help push for better practice among vets.

Ms Moss has teamed up with Professor David Lloyd, of the Royal Veterinary College, North Mymms, who has researched the risks of MRSA infection among animals, to promote better hygiene among vets.

And yesterday, the British Veterinary Hospitals Association announced it was embarking on an educational campaign to ensure all vets were aware of the risks.

The association is asking vets to use sterile gloves, masks and scrub suits during operations to prevent animals getting the bug.

Agony aunt Claire Rayner, patron of the charity, said: "It is a very worrying situation. More research needs to be done for the future.

"I am concerned about MRSA cross-contamination from people to animals, and vets should be diligent about infection control. We should all be concerned with protecting pets from unnecessary suffering and death."

Ms Moss added: "It is up to individual practices to ensure cleanliness. If they do not, the rate of infection will increase."

The charity also hopes to set up a veterinary clinic for the care of pets suffering from MRSA and other serious infections.

Visit www.thebellamoss for more details.