Battersea Dogs and Cats Home pays tribute to comedian Paul O’Grady

Battersea chief executive Peter Laurie said: “Battersea will forever remember Paul as a devoted animal lover with the biggest heart, who fell head over heels in love with every dog he met at our centres.

“Paul will always be associated with Battersea and we are truly saddened to have lost such a true friend and huge part of our charity.

“Paul had an extremely hands-on approach as a Battersea Ambassador, and has been fundamental in helping our charity to communicate important campaign messages.

“He was a champion for the underdog and would do anything to ensure all animals live a healthy and happy life. He will be dearly missed.”

Mr O’Grady’s close association with Battersea began when the comedian began filming the Bafta-nominated ITV series.

Interviewed during the first series in September 2012, Mr O’Grady said: “Hand on heart, this has been one of the nicest jobs I’ve ever had. Battersea is a magical place.

“People think it’s all doom and gloom, but it’s not, it’s such a happy place.

“I’ve had a ball. It’s such an enriching place to work and I’m coming back. They can’t get rid of me. Once I became really involved, I’d go home and worry about the dogs. I’d be ringing friends, saying, ‘I’ve found a lovely dog for you’.

“The aim of the game for me became to rehome these dogs. To show all the work that Battersea does, but also to get people interested – genuine people who are looking for a dog, to come here.

“I’d like to see, at the end of the day, this place empty. All go off to nice homes. Hopefully, after watching the programmes, that what’s going to happen.”

Mr O’Grady’s influence helped thousands of rescue animals find new homes. By spending time with these animals and showing their quirks and loveable qualities, he showed rescue animals can be the best pets.

It was during the filming of the first series that Mr O’Grady rehomed the first of his own Battersea rescues when he fell in love with his beloved Eddie, a chihuahua/jack russell cross puppy.

The series was broadcast all over the world from Canada to Poland, New Zealand to Singapore, and as a result letters and emails of support arrive at Battersea from all corners of the world – some simply addressed “Paul O’Grady”.

In 2018 the National Television Awards recognised the series’ impact on helping find homes for rescue centres nationwide, when it awarded Mr O’Grady a special recognition award.

Pictured top: Paul O’Grady with a rescued pomeranian at Battersea (Picture: Battersea Dogs and Cats Home) 

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