IN THE NEWS: Dr Hugh Wirth, animal advocate and much-loved radio vet, dies aged 79

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IN THE NEWS: On FEB 5, 2018

Wirth, who was president of RSPCA Victoria for 43 years, gained a loyal following with his no-nonsense advice and dogged campaigning.

The prominent animal welfare advocate Dr Hugh Wirth has died aged 79.

Wirth was president of RSPCA Victoria for 43 years before his retirement in 2015 and the resident veterinarian on 774 ABC Melbourne radio for 30 years, dispensing no-nonsense advice to current and would-be pet owners every Saturday morning.

The RSPCA Victoria chief executive, Liz Walker released, a statement confirming Wirth's death on Monday, saying he was "passionate, incredibly knowledgeable and tenacious".

"Dr Hugh was at the forefront of many of the improvements we have seen in animal welfare in my lifetime," Walker said. "He drove campaigns that resulted in the banning of puppy tail docking and the export of horses to Japan for slaughter, and he led the humane foods movement with the launch of RSPCA barn laid eggs in 1997."

Wirth was a well-known public figure in Victoria due to his regular radio appearances. Fans paid tribute on social media to his acerbic style and achievements on behalf of animals.

Victoria's agriculture minister, Jaala Pulford, who passed laws last year banning puppy farming in Victoria in response to an extensive RSPCA campaign, said Wirth was a "tireless campaigner".

Wirth joined the RSPCA as a junior member in 1949, at the age of 10. He began his veterinarian career in Drouin, West Gippsland, later joining and buying the Balwyn veterinary surgery, where he practised for 47 years before retiring.

He was elected to the RSPCA state council in 1967 and became president in 1972.

He was also the president of RSPCA Australia for 22 years and the first non-European president of World Animal Protection.

He was made a member of the order of Australia in 1985, in 1988 was the first Australian to be awarded the George T Angell Humanitarian award from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and was named Victorian of the Year in 1997.

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