TV agony aunt Denise Robertson helped kick off a fund-raising drive in aid of a Wearside pet hospital.
The writer and broadcaster, who regularly appears on ITV1 show This Morning, teamed up with volunteers and staff at the PDSA PetAid Hospital, in Castletown, for an open day.
As well as stalls and fun activities, visitors were given a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Hepworth Road facility.
Animal experts were also on hand to offer advice on vaccinations, diet and exercise, parasite prevention and neutering.
Senior veterinary surgeon Lianne O’Brien said the support of Denise, from East Boldon, was much-appreciated.
“The open day is a brilliant way for people to learn more about pets and see the workings of a PDSA hospital,” she said.
“Everyone from budding vets, to clients and those interested in animals had a great day out.”
The PDSA first came to Sunderland in 1952 when the charity opened a dispensary in Chester Road, before moving to another location in Kings Road, Southwick, in 1989.
By 2009, demand for its service had risen and the Kings Road facility could no longer cope with the number of pet patients desperately needing help.
In early 2010, work began on the new £1.6million PetAid hospital, which now treats about 140 pets every working day.
The new Sunderland PDSA PetAid hospital is officially known as the Reay Hudson Centre after a huge fund-raising donation from the late Derek Reay Hudson’s estate.
Pet owners who live within the hospital’s catchment area can register with PDSA if they are in receipt of housing benefit or council tax benefit.
Treatment for sickness or injury is free, although owners are asked to make a contribution towards the cost of preventative treatments, including microchipping, neutering and worming.
For more information about the PDSA, visit www.pdsa.org.uk.