A LANDMARK moment this week saw a Bury cat sitter bring her campaign before the House of Commons.

Cat campaigner Heléna Abrahams has had her day in Parliament following an “uphill” three-year battle for a change in law.

Miss Abrahams, who lives in the Fairfield area of Bury, was left devastated after one of her cats Gizmo was hit by a car and cremated without her knowledge in 2016.

Gizmo was microchipped but, unlike dogs, there is no legal requirement to scan cats.

Miss Abrahams spent three weeks looking for her beloved cat before she found out Gizmo had been involved in the collision.

The “heartbreak” that she experienced prompted Miss Abrahams to launch her campaign, ‘Gizmo’s Legacy’.

Despite two failed petitions, a breakthrough came in March this year when Miss Abrahams’ third attempt secured the support of more than 107,000 people, passing the threshold to be heard in Parliament.

On Monday, Miss Abrahams along with several other campaigners, Bury MP James Frith and SNP’s Martyn Day, who all support the cause, travelled to London to formally hand in her petition.

Their campaign reached the House of Commons, where it was debated by MPs to help them reach an informed decision on the issue.

Miss Abrahams, aged 47, said: “What a great day for Gizmo’s Legacy. We went to Downing Street and then to debate.

“We have got a second reading which is brilliant and also a meeting with the minister of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, MP David Rutley.

“Thank you also to James Frith, my amazing MP, and Martyn Day, our head speaker.”

The outcome of the hearing was a success, with the petition being granted a Second Reading.

During their visit, the group even captured a selfie with Larry, the 10 Downing Street cat, who is Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.

Bruce Forsyth’s daughter Debbie Matthews, who is representing the late entertainer’s campaign group Vets Get Scanning, was also among the group.

She posted on Facebook: “Good day. Handing in the Gizmo’s Legacy petition alongside Gizmo’s Team, asking councils to stop throwing deceased pets into landfill like disposable rubbish without checking for a microchip.

“Even Larry and Palmerston turned up to support! With Ross Thomson MP, James Frith MP and Martyn Day MP.

“The DEFRA minister, David Rutley MP, was charming and is pushing this forward by writing to the relevant departments and meeting again.”

In the aftermath of losing Gizmo, cat sitter Miss Abrahams launched a Facebook page, Deceased Cats, which has accrued more than 2,500 followers to date, as well as a blog in her cat’s name. Many of these followers have supported her cause.

Miss Abrahams and her team of nationwide volunteers collect dead cats from the streets and work to reunite them with their owners.

The cats are then taken to Armac Vets in Bury where they are scanned for a chip. ‘Lost and found’ Facebook pages are then used as a means for tracking their owners.

Miss Abrahams previously told the Bury Times: “Cats are treated like rubbish by councils up and down the country. They hardly ever bother to scan them. They just dispose of them like trash.

“It takes two minutes to scan someone’s beloved pet and get it home but so many councils can’t be bothered.

“It is about making councils start scanning our pets that we find at the side of the road instead of just sending them straight to landfill so that owners can have closure.”

Bury Council’s usual procedure is to scan both dead cats and dogs, but they are not under legal obligation to scan cats.

Martyn Day, MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, was the main speaker for the petition in Parliament.

He said: “What we are calling for is easily attainable within the current resources.

“This is about the family’s wellbeing and knowing what has happened to their beloved pet.

“The process of scanning can be done in minutes and is not a complex procedure. Councils that have a policy to scan deceased pets often leave the onus on the owner to contact the council within seven days, which is a pointless exercise if an owner is not notified or if the pet is disposed of without the owner being given the chance to collect the body, to bury or cremate it, and to deal with their grief.

“Too often, there is a disparity between council policy and actual practice.”

The Government recommends that any owner should microchip their cat to increase the chances of its being reunited with them if it gets lost.

The animal welfare minister, David Rutley, pledged to work with the minister of state for transport, Michael Ellis, to explore what more the Government can do to ensure that guidance is followed and what more can be done to help owners to know the fate of their beloved cats.

He said in Parliament: “I was particularly taken with the examples from the Gizmo’s Legacy team. It is right that we do all we can to encourage local authorities and others to scan the fallen pets that they find, and I will work with colleagues across Government to see what more we can do to promote and encourage good practice in this area.”