Today, on what would have marked the 11th anniversary of Paul O’Grady MBE becoming an Ambassador for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, the leading animal welfare charity has announced plans to help thousands of animals in need with money raised from public donations following his death.
Almost 20,000 donations were made to Battersea in Paul’s honour from generous members of the public wanting to pay their respects and express their gratitude.
A staggering £480,000 was donated and after consulting with Paul’s closest family and friends Battersea is sharing how the money will go towards helping those animals most in need.
In addition to honouring the late presenter by naming Battersea’s state-of-the-art clinic facilities ‘The Paul O’Grady Veterinary Hospital’, the charity will spend the funds helping dogs and cats who need specialist care and treatment.
Every year, Battersea invests hundreds of thousands of pounds providing the very best care for animals and, where possible, these animals are treated by Battersea’s expert veterinary team; however, in some cases external specialists and surgical teams are needed. Battersea will use the tribute fund on life-saving and transformative medical procedures for these animals in their care.
Dogs like two-year-old Newfoundland, Peggy, who Paul met whilst filming the last series of ITV show Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs. The presenter followed Peggy’s progress as she underwent life-changing surgery during her time at Battersea before going on to find her forever home.
Battersea will be sharing over a fifth of the funds raised between other animal charities close to Paul’s heart. Freshfields Animal Rescue, Carla Lane Animals in Need, and The Oldies Club, all charities near Paul’s birthplace that will be receiving a gift of £20,000 each along with StreetVet for whom Paul was Ambassador and RSPCA Ashford Garden Cattery where he was President and was local to Paul’s home in Kent.
Director of Freshfields Animal Rescue, Emma Jensen, said, “It is a real honour to have been chosen as a recipient of the Paul O’Grady tribute fund by Battersea. Paul’s passion for animal welfare helped enormously with shining a light on rescue animals who need a second chance in life.
“This generous funding will help carry on his incredible legacy by allowing us to care, support and give medical attention to rescued animals. We are planning to use it for preventative work. Always better than cure! We want to expand our vet facilities for neutering for more dogs and cats from our Liverpool centre. It is desperately needed as there is an enormous challenge for us with the overpopulation of pets.
“There is a 30% increase in requests for help across the board. For us its 50%. In 2021, we had 580 dogs we couldn’t take in – this year its 150 a month, or 1800 a year.
“We want Paul’s legacy to prevent dogs and cats from abandonment and risk of an early end to their life.
“We will be able to neuter many more dogs with this funding. We do need everyone to help by not letting your dog or cat have a litter. And we would ask everyone: please neuter the pets you have.
“That way, together, we’ll make sure we do Paul proud and carry on his fantastic legacy.
“Paul was rightly well respected by the people of Merseyside and it’s all the more meaningful that this funding will transform the lives of many animals in Liverpool and the North West. We will do him proud”.
Peter Laurie, Battersea’s Chief Executive, said, “We’ve been overwhelmed and deeply touched by the generous donations from thousands of people following the death of our beloved Ambassador, Paul O’Grady. It really is a testament to how loved Paul was, and we shall always be forever grateful for everything he did for us.
“As an Ambassador for Battersea, especially during his 11 years filming For the Love of Dogs, Paul helped animals in their recuperation from surgery, and at times, watched as they headed offsite for specialist surgery; naming our veterinary hospital after Paul, therefore, feels fitting. We are pleased to also be able to share donations with other charities who support rescue animals. Paul was always a champion of the underdog, and we’ll be carrying on his legacy, by ensuring we use the funding to go the extra mile for animals that need costly surgery, medication, or rehabilitation.”
Paul’s husband, Andre Portasio, said, “Seeing how loved Paul was by so many has been truly touching. Paul was so passionate in his support of rescue animals, and it gives me some comfort to know that through the hard work and commitment of Battersea and other charities Paul’s legacy will live on. I know that Paul would have been pleased to know that the most disadvantaged animals he was so fond of championing are getting the love and support they deserve.”
Image: Flickr user Steve Punter, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons